Google’s DeepMind, a leading-edge artificial intelligence group, announced on March 12 that the company is in discussions with the UK’s National Grid to use AI to help balance energy supply and demand in Britain, according to a report this week in the Financial Times.

“We’re early stages talking to National Grid and other big providers about how we could look at the sorts of problems they have. It would be amazing if you could save 10 per cent of the country’s energy usage without any new infrastructure, just from optimization. That’s pretty exciting,” Demis Hassabis, DeepMind’s CEO told FT.

National Grid’s role in balancing power on the grid has become more challenging in recent years, as intermittent renewable sources of electricity — including wind and solar power — have become a bigger part of Britain’s energy mix. DeepMind’s algorithms could help the utility to more accurately predict demand patterns and help balance the national energy system more efficiently, the two companies believe.

There’s huge potential for predictive machine learning technology to help energy systems reduce their environmental impact. One really interesting possibility is whether we could help the National Grid maximize the use of renewables through using machine learning to predict peaks in demand and supply,” DeepMind told the global news organization, adding that it was in the process of exploring a “possible partnership”.

National Grid commented to FT, “We are in the very early stages of looking at the potential of working with DeepMind and exploring what opportunities they could offer for us.”

Last July, London-based DeepMind announced that its machine learning algorithms had cut electricity usage at Google’s data centers in Britain by 15 per cent. The smart algorithms were able to predict load on the data centers’ cooling systems and control equipment more efficiently – resulting in a 40 per cent reduction in the amount of energy used for cooling.

Analysts estimate that could translate to savings of hundreds of millions of dollars for Google over several years, the Financial Times reported..

“Because that’s worked so well, we’re obviously expanding that capability around Google, but we’d like to look at doing it at National Grid-scale,” Hassabis said. “We think there’s no reason why you can’t think of a whole national grid of a country in the same way as you can the data centers’.”

03DeepMind was founded in London in 2010 and acquired by Google in 2014.

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