Humans are responsible for emitting over 40 billion tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year – and we all know that we need to reduce that figure to prevent devastating climate change. Listener Saugat wonders whether smart technology and artificial intelligence can help us do this more quickly?
Green energy will go a long way to tackling the problem, but integrating wind and solar into our current electricity grid is complicated. CrowdScience hears how AI is being used at a wind farm on the island of Orkney to predict periods of high winds, so that excess energy can be turned into hydrogen and stored, then converted back to electricity when there’s greater demand.
Digital mirrors are also playing a major role in optimising performance, and scientists say cloud-based “twins” of physical assets like turbines can improve yield by up to 20%, allowing engineers to identify problems via computer without ever having to be on site.
Marnie visits an intelligent building in London’s financial district where sensors control everything from air-conditioning to lighting, and machine learning means the building knows which staff will be on which floor at any given time, switching off lifts that are not in use and adjusting ventilation to save on power. Its designer says incorporating this kind of digital technology will help companies achieve net zero more quickly.
And in India, more than half the population are involved in agriculture, but the sector is plagued by inefficiency and waste. Tech start-ups have realised there’s potential for growth, and are using drones to monitor crop production and spraying, giving farmers apps which help them decide when and where to fertilise their fields.
Produced by Marijke Peters for BBC World Service.
Matthew Marson, Arcadis
Professor Srinivasan Keshav, University of Cambridge