How 5G and AI can help fossil fuels better adapt to the post-COP27 world

How 5G and AI can help fossil fuels better adapt to the post-COP27 world

Ministers deliver statements during the closing plenary of the COP27 climate summit in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, November 20, 2022. [Photo/Agencies]

Fossil fuel companies have long been criticized for their environmental impact and are seeking to adapt in a world where sustainability policies are an increasingly urgent priority for governments around the world, as evidenced by the more than 35 000 people who attended the 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change held in the resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh in Egypt. However, it is important to remember that these industries are also essential to our way of life. They still provide much of the energy that powers our homes and businesses, and they play a vital role in many aspects of the economy. As such, it is important to find ways to make fossil fuel production more environmentally friendly — and safe — while continuing to transition to other forms of energy.

One potential way to do this is through 5G and AI technologies. And while there are many good ideas, practical applications are important if real progress is to be made. Huawei’s new MineHarmony operating system is an example of how ideas quickly turn into reality to make coal mining safer and more environmentally friendly.

Coal has been used as an energy source since the earliest days of human civilization, with the first recorded use of coal dating back to the first century CE, when the Chinese used it to smelt bronze. In the 13th century, coal was mined in England and used to fuel furnaces for glassmaking and iron production. The Industrial Revolution of the 18th and 19th centuries saw a dramatic increase in the use of coal, as it became the primary fuel for powering factories, steamships and trains. Today, coal remains an important source of energy for several reasons. First, it is plentiful and relatively easy to extract. It is also inexpensive, making it a viable option for countries with limited resources. With growing geopolitical uncertainty, domestic coal supplies contribute to energy security. In addition, coal can be used in different ways. It can be burned to generate heat or electricity, or it can be converted into gaseous or liquid fuels. In addition, coal mining is an important source of employment. Thus, the balance between job security and the global transition to a new energy mix is ​​another issue to be taken into account. It is important for countries around the world to address related safety and environmental issues.

While the use of coal has increased dramatically, what hasn’t changed over the centuries is that coal mining has remained a dangerous and dirty job. But, with the advent of 5G technology and AI, that is changing, and some of the most notable developments to make coal mining safer and more environmentally friendly are happening today. today in China – a country that mined 4.01 billion metric tons of coal in 2021. with 207.9 billion tons of proven reserves, according to China’s Ministry of Natural Resources.

In recent years, there has been a lot of talk about the potential of 5G technology and AI to transform various industries. In the mining sector, these technologies are seen as a way to improve safety and efficiency. For example, because 5G offers high speeds and low latency, it can be used to transmit sensor data in real time. This information can be used to detect things like gas leaks or structural problems before they become dangerous. AI can also be used to analyze data and identify patterns that could indicate problems if left unchecked. Additionally, these technologies can be used to track the location of workers and automatically direct them around hazards. By using 5G technology and AI, coal miners can work safer and more efficiently, reducing the risk of accidents and injuries.

Huawei Mine OS is a concrete example of how 5G and AI can be integrated to make coal mining safer and greener. 5G enables a wide variety of equipment to be connected in real time through unified data standards, frameworks and specifications, while AI ensures better decisions are made. Jointly developed by Huawei and China Energy Investment Corp, the system has been deployed on 3,300 sets of equipment in 13 mines and one coal washing plant in the entire Wulanmulun mine in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Although Huawei has attracted the most attention by applying 5G and AI technologies to traditional industries such as coal mining, it is not alone. China’s second-largest telecommunications equipment maker – ZTE Corp – has launched a similar effort in partnership with state-owned China Baowu Steel Group Corp to deploy 5G-enabled autonomous mining trucks at an open-pit iron ore mine in the Anhui province. Meanwhile, Alibaba is working with Shaanxi Coal and Chemical Industry Group to provide cloud computing, big data, AI and blockchain technologies to improve enterprise management, online operations and international business development. . All of these initiatives represent efforts to fulfill President Xi Jinping’s call for “new infrastructure” to support the country’s economy under the country’s 14th Five-Year Plan (2021-25).

As the world looks to the future after COP27, China’s contributions to promoting global energy security and sustainability will increase. Despite the reluctance of some circles, fossil fuels still have a role to play with both opportunities to be seized and challenges to be met, and an integrated system integrating 5G and AI technologies can play a positive role. Ge Shirong, President of China University of Mining and Technology in Beijing and Academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering, said, “Industry needs an operating system that enables ubiquitous interconnectivity for coal mines. Smart coal mining has been rapidly promoted in China. . Digital technology is essential to help coal mines achieve this goal, but there is still a long way to go. »

Opinions do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

The author is a Senior Fellow at the Center for China and Globalization, where he focuses on technology and its impact on major power relations.

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