AI & intelligent grid management speed the energy transition

AI can support the renewable energy transition through data, analytics, maintenance, storage, distribution, microgrid management & decentralisation

As a management consultant at Ernst and Young, Pratyush Kumar Singh advises C-suite executives daily, looking into strategic imperatives and the transformative power of technology to achieve organisational goals. 

A subject expert, Pratyush's genuine passion for technology and sustainability underscores his dedication to shaping a brighter future through his expertise and insights. With an eight-year tenure as an engineering officer in the Indian Army, he brings substantial experience in managing cutting-edge technologies, and he also holds a degree in electronics engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru University, Delhi, and an MBA from the Ross School of Business, University of Michigan. 

As the global shift toward renewable energy gains momentum, with it comes the need for smarter and more efficient ways to manage power distribution.  The transition demands integrating intermittent resources like solar and wind power into existing grids with innovative approaches that not only ensure a stable and reliable energy supply but also capitalise on the benefits of renewable sources. 

Pratyush shares insights into how artificial intelligence (AI) and digital tools such as the Internet of Things (IoT), big data analytics, and machine learning (ML) can help achieve intelligent grid management and accelerate the transition to renewable energy. 

What are the complexities, challenges, and benefits of renewables integration?

Over the past decade, renewable energy saw a rapid increase in production and a steep decline in cost. Renewables like solar and wind power exhibit variability based on weather conditions and geographical factors, posing a significant challenge for energy grids designed to accommodate steady inputs. Integrating hydrogen, a versatile energy carrier derived from renewables, adds another layer of complexity. 

AI-powered grid management uses advanced algorithms and ML techniques to process massive volumes of real-time data, including energy production and consumption patterns, weather forecasts, grid performance metrics, and equipment health data.

The integration of AI into grid management supports the transition to renewable energy in ways including: 

  • Real-time data processing and analysis. The data generated by sensors, smart metres, and other IoT devices and processed by AI-powered systems enables grid operators to monitor energy consumption patterns, track renewable energy generation, and assess grid performance in real time.
  • Predictive analytics for energy balancing. Using historical and real-time data, AI algorithms predict energy generation patterns, consumption trends, and weather conditions to balance energy supply and demand, optimise grid stability, and reduce reliance on non-renewable backup power.
  • Efficient fault detection and maintenance. Through ML and continuous monitoring of equipment health and performance, anomalies and potential faults can be detected early, minimising downtime and increasing the lifespan of grid components.
  • Optimised energy distribution. By considering real-time demand, production costs, and storage capacity, AI optimises energy distribution from renewables and energy storage systems, ensuring maximum utilisation of renewable sources and reducing fossil fuel dependence.
  • Microgrid management and decentralisation. AI-powered microgrid controllers can integrate renewables, storage systems, and local generation sources to adjust energy flow based on real-time conditions, enhancing energy resilience and promoting the use of renewable resources.
  • Enhancing energy storage utilisation. AI optimises the charge and discharge cycles of energy storage systems, such as batteries, based on predicted energy patterns, maximising the stored energy utilisation during peak demand periods, and minimising waste.

What are the risks and concerns associated with intelligent grid management?

Integrating AI into existing grid infrastructures is intricate, particularly when dealing with legacy systems, demanding extensive technical expertise and potential system upgrades. The absence of standardisation across diverse technologies and protocols creates challenges when integrating AI systems across utilities and regions.

Regulatory frameworks and ethical considerations must be established to ensure fair, transparent, and accountable AI use within grid management. The heightened integration of AI into critical infrastructure increases cybersecurity risks, necessitating robust safeguards against potential cyber threats and attacks.

The decision-making complexity of AI algorithms may hinder human interpretability, thereby creating challenges for human oversight, understanding, and intervention when needed. Transitioning from traditional grid management approaches to AI-powered systems requires a shift in organisational culture, staff training, and adapting to new workflows. Utilities can adopt modular approaches to navigate integration complexities, gradually introducing AI into existing infrastructure while considering interoperability standards. Engaging in industry-wide initiatives to establish common protocols and frameworks encourages standardisation, promoting smoother AI integration. Overcoming resource constraints involves knowledge sharing, capacity building, and partnerships to provide smaller utilities access to AI technologies. Finally, a proactive regulatory environment that promotes transparency, accountability, and ethical AI use can be achieved by collaborating with policymakers, legal experts, and industry leaders to draft guidelines that address innovation and compliance. 

How can industry leaders facilitate the integration of renewable energy in the grid?

It is essential for energy sector leadership to establish a clear roadmap for AI integration, encompassing pilot projects, scale-up plans, and timelines for deployment. Collaborative partnerships with technology providers, research institutions, and regulatory bodies enable leaders to stay at the forefront of AI advancements and anticipate industry trends. It is essential for leaders to invest in talent development by upskilling existing staff and hiring skilled data scientists, AI engineers, and domain experts.

Effective leadership involves creating an environment that values transparency, open communication, and interdisciplinary collaboration. C-suite executives can bridge the gap between technological innovation and practical implementation by actively involving grid operators, data scientists, engineers, and policymakers in decision-making processes. 

What is the present and future of AI in grid management?

AI is already being deployed to power the transition toward renewable energy. In Denmark, for example, EcoGrid has successfully utilised AI to integrate renewable energy and keep transmission and distribution grids from being overwhelmed. Similarly, Deepmind and Google are experimenting with using AI to predict the output of wind farms.

If deployed correctly, intelligent grid management will lead to a more resilient, sustainable, and efficient energy grid for the future. The challenges ahead, from data privacy to technical integration, are formidable, but so is the capacity for innovation and collaboration. 


For more energy insights check out the latest edition of Energy Digital Magazine and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn & Twitter.

You may also be interested in Sustainability Magazine and EV Magazine


BizClik is a global provider of B2B digital media platforms that cover Executive Communities for CEOs, CFOs, CMOs, Sustainability Leaders, Procurement & Supply Chain Leaders, Technology & AI Leaders, Cyber Leaders, FinTech & InsurTech Leaders as well as covering industries such as Manufacturing, Mining, Energy, EV, Construction, Healthcare + Food & Drink.

BizClik – based in London, Dubai, and New York – offers services such as Content Creation, Advertising & Sponsorship Solutions, Webinars & Events.


Featured Articles

Honeywell debunks hydrogen energy and its global challenges

Maya Gomez, Director of Green H2 CCM at Honeywell, uncovers the different types of hydrogen and the challenges of applying them for more sustainable energy

ABB Motion & WindESCo partner to strengthen wind energy

ABB Motion invests in WindESCo to sustain wind turbine performance, in a renewable energy drive that will help ABB in its net zero ambitions

Shell Energy UK and Germany acquired by Octopus Energy

Octopus delivers industry leading service whilst investing in clean energy systems — we will deliver this to the new customers too, says CEO Greg Jackson

Sustainability LIVE links to energy and electrification


Green energy: A hot topic at Sustainability LIVE 2023


Sustainability LIVE London sells out on 2023 conference