5 Mins With ... Muhammad Malik, CEO and Founder, NeuerEnergy
Muhammad Malik is CEO and Founder of NeuerEnergy, a sustainability focused technology and infrastructure investment company. In the column, he reflects on the challenges of carbon removal and mitigation and important role that AI and algorithms can play in providing a solution
Is carbon mitigation enough to combat the climate crisis?
The latest report from the UN-backed IPCC says mitigating emissions is no longer enough, and now we must also remove billions of tons of CO2 from the atmosphere. Therefore, to truly minimise the UK’s impact on the environment will require companies, governments, cities and local authorities to offset all emissions they’ve ever emitted - transitioning to carbon negative operations - and mitigate future emissions.
However, what is lacking is clear policies, investments and regulations to help organisations reduce and mitigate emissions by the government’s target date. Without clear guidelines in place, companies should consider automating the acquisition process of suitable carbon mitigation and removal products or services. This will enable them to find the right suppliers quickly, cheaply and effectively, without impacting day-to-day business operations.
You have a track record in leadership roles at global enterprise companies. Why did you pivot to create a cleantech startup in NeuerEnergy?
Tesla’s 2018 plans to provide a virtual power plant for grid balancing highlighted to me the need for disruption in the energy industry. Fast forward to the present day and we still need sustainable fuel sources to become a viable alternative to the booming fossil fuels industry. In fact, a recent IEA report suggests that global electricity demand is growing faster than current renewable energy capacity can be rolled out, meaning more power generated from the burning of fossil fuels is required.
I’ve observed in previous leadership roles that disruption is often caused by changes to a value. Ultimately, algorithms invented to seek value and shift demand to align with the right portfolio of products and suppliers will ensure everyone wins in the transition to net-zero. Currently, fossil fuels generate about a 15-20% return on investment, compared to 10% at-best for renewable energy. This provides a unique opportunity for technology to make sustainable solutions more cost-effective and transparent with equations.
I believe the success of net zero equations will rely on intelligent, API-based platforms and applications, which serve as intelligent advisors and provide transparency of outcomes via an individualised renewable energy dashboard. NeuerEnergy’s AI platform was born for exactly that; enabling businesses and governments to plug-in and fast-track their net-zero journey timeline.
How does the NeuerEnergy platform enable organisations to identify suitable net-zero products and services?
Organisations must pursue their own unique sustainability journey, focusing on both carbon removal and mitigation to align with government timelines. From a carbon removal standpoint, our platform will aggregate an organisation’s specific carbon mitigation and removal requirements, particularly by scope and type, it will then align this with the most suitable products and suppliers available to meet these targets.
For longer-term carbon mitigation, we provide AI-enabled intelligent advisory to help companies’ identify the most suitable renewable energy options for their operations. The NeuerEnergy algorithm will combine existing data sets with external insights to provide a single view of the energy ecosystem. Then, as new opportunities arise within the market, the platform will cross reference this with historical information to quantify suitability in regards to a company’s budgets and timelines.
Importantly, this level of transparency means carbon dioxide reduction and mitigation projects can be tracked, managed and reported to internal and external stakeholders.
How can AI technologies make the renewable energy transition safer?
Traditionally, Purchase Power Agreements have encouraged organisations to use only one renewables supplier – meaning buyers tend to rely on low risk, high volume providers; often taking months of manual research and RFPs. However, by implementing AI technologies, organisations can standardise the energy acquisition process to maintain a more dynamic and diverse energy portfolio.
AI algorithms, for example, can produce the perfect provision of green energy from low-risk high-volume suppliers, while standardising partial fulfilment agreements with independent initiatives and new developments, furthering the positive impact of green energy investments across the growing renewable grid. In turn, by grouping PPAs and automating the complex legal workflow, organisations streamline processes and save significant time, money and personnel.
How can organisations remove obscurity around how their green investments are performing?
Corporate, industrial and public entities must ensure that green initiatives are measurable and performance-driven from the outset. Corporate data can be harmonised to provide a single, unified view of an organisation’s carbon footprint. This intelligence can be delivered both quantitatively, with reportable checklist-style scoring, and qualitatively, with a more in-depth commentary on progress.
Additionally, AI can also play an important role in monitoring and optimising supply chains, keeping all partners aligned with net-zero policies. Through integrating data feeds from satellite providers, for example, AI is capable of rapidly detecting and even predicting anomalies from suppliers.
AI technologies that analyse persistent data streams can also send immediate notifications of any unexpected problems, thereby providing a greater understanding of risk and authenticating the sustainability of a whole supply chain.
Only with this level of transparency will business leaders have confidence and clarity around the output of their green investments and initiatives.