Energy is a precious resource so we should optimise its use and production.  AI will play an important role in achieving that optimisation.  But that requires 'equal and democratic datasets'.  So says Axel Voss, a member of the European Parliament's Legal Affairs Committee and a rapporteur (i.e. responsible person) for the EU AI Act (a one-page flowchart for the EU AI Act is here).

The role of AI in the energy sector

Voss explains:

  • AI can predict both energy consumption and production. 
  • When this is integrated into urban infrastructure systems, it can regulate and optimise production based on predicted demand. 
  • This predictive capability is also imperative for the renewable energy transition, as it allows for a more accurate forecast of production and load management.
  • Accurate predictions are important to ensure a consistent and secure energy supply.

The challenges and actions required

Voss continues:

  • EU companies face barriers to data sharing, including market imbalances which limit access to essential datasets. 
  • Private companies can easily restrict access to their datasets, which makes the market entry for start-ups and researchers burdensome. This is harmful to innovation on the continent as it gives a substantial edge to large, often foreign, companies who can train on their datasets.
  • an open marketplace which can facilitate data sharing is key. In its data sharing resolution, the European Parliament already proposed the establishment of data silos to which companies and researchers can gain access. This is imperative so that barriers to data sharing that cripple innovation are overcome.

Voss does not explain (for example) what is meant by 'equal and democratic access to datasets', what those datasets would look like, or how they would be collated or managed. Nor is it yet clear how commercially sensitive and valuable data will be handled in such a framework. He also does not explain the role of the EU's proposed Data Governance Act, EU AI Act or current Digital Strategy in achieving these goals. However, it is clear from the EU's strategy and Voss' calls that this is a challenge that the EU seeks to address.

If you would like to discuss how current or future regulations impact what you do with AI, please contact Tom Whittaker or Brian Wong.

The intelligent management of energy resources and production to meet future demand and more related topics will be explored at the Interchange conference at The Vox, Birmingham on 18 and 19 April 2023 where Burges Salmon sponsors the Energy Hub.