Artificial Intelligence’s Role in the Energy Sector

In an interview with IEEE, Navigant highlights what AI means for the energy industry

Artificial intelligence (AI) is becoming a key tool in industries that range from transportation to healthcare. Recently, AI applications have also made their way into the energy industry, offering the potential to optimize the use of distributed energy resources (DER), electric vehicles, and the Internet of Things (IoT), while aligning with the current pace of change that utilities, regulators, and customers have come to expect.

In an interview with the IEEE Transmitter, Shawn Chandler, associate director at Navigant and senior member of IEEE, recently shared his thoughts on how AI will bolster efficiency in the energy industry.

"In the next five years, the use of energy storage and IoT is expected to increase significantly, along with an increased development of DER with two-way power flow in the distribution grid, and new roles for energy service suppliers, utilities, and consumers that produce energy, or prosumers,” Chandler says. “This evolution of the grid has been called the “Energy Cloud,” and the use of AI can be considered critical to the management of such a system, given the number of points of control in the grid increasing from many tens of thousands to hundreds of millions, or even billions.”

According to Chandler, applications for AI in the energy industry include:

  • Reliability: Self-healing grids, operations improvement, and efficient use of renewable resources and energy storage
  • Safety: Outage prediction and outage response
  • Cybersecurity of systems: Threat detection and response
  • Optimization: Asset, maintenance, workflow, and portfolio management
  • Enhancements for the customer experience: Faster and more intuitive interactive voice response, personalization, and product and service matching    

“Compared to now, where AI is a tool being explored for optimization opportunities, in the future, it will be a requirement for effective grid participation,” Chandler adds.

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