Power sector seeks to reap benefits and tackle risks from AI applications

AI applications are transforming business operations and processes in the power sector as well as the broader economy, leading to greater cost savings, increased efficiency and new services for consumers.

But further developments rely on the ability to foster and support innovation, addressing outstanding matters related to investments, data access and governance, as well as ethics.

By 2025, 81% of the energy companies will have adopted artificial intelligence, reaping the numerous benefits of accelerated developments in this field and fast tracking the clean energy transition. This is according to an assessment released by Eurelectric, AI Insights: The Power Sector in a Post-Digital Age.

First, AI can enable a faster decarbonisation of the power sector. While renewables are expected to cover over 80% of the electricity mix by 2050, coupling their deployment with AI applications, such as predictive algorithms, can lead to an efficient integration of variable sources of energy, thus providing a meaningful solution for reliability and intermittency concerns.

Second, AI applications can support grid stability via accurate baseload management features and predictive maintenance, while the effective monitoring of customer use, would improve forecasting and lead to an optimal match between supply and demand.

Kristian Ruby, secretary general of Eurelectric said: “The application of AI in the power sector will accelerate the clean energy transition and empower consumers to play their key role in this transformation. To boost the consumer engagement, we urgently need to build relationships based on trust, ensuring the protection of privacy and data, as well as making sure that those who are vulnerable and less tech-savvy are not left behind.”

The access to high-quality data is the lifeblood of AI, and an enabler of power sector transformation. The deployment of smart meters and advanced sensor technology would provide this much needed real-time data, thus allowing for AI-enabled demand-response and flexibility services to facilitate a better matching of customer usage and renewable output.

With a sampling rate of four times per hour, 1 million smart meters installed in the smart grid would result in more than 35 billion records. But this abundance of data calls for sophisticated storage, and analysis tools, as well as policies that balance the need for data sharing with the protection of consumer privacy. While robust AI regulations are being developed to safeguard consumers, by avoiding bias and minimising the risks of careless data management, they should seek to foster innovation.
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EU’s global leadership on AI also relies on its ability to drive adequate funding into innovation and boost cooperation on digital programmes that bridge the yawning chasm between pilot projects and their commercialisation. In light of the twin transition to green and digital economy, allocating the right funding would bring the EU one step closer to meeting its climate neutrality ambition.