Artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud software are driving energy innovation in a variety of ways, from automating the process of optimizing energy networks to fully managing maintenance schedules and energy flow.
They can also help with disaster prevention, by predicting and identifying problems such as faulty transmission lines, failing transformers, and system overloads. Couple that with deep learning and the power of AI and the cloud and the role they are playing in the industry is truly transformational.
Additionally, cloud computing alone presents a range of opportunities for energy providers. Backing up data to the cloud, for example, means energy companies can more easily comply with market regulations, while compiling information from regulators can be accomplished using automated analytics and reporting.
However, one area where their impact on the industry has shown great promise is in the regulation of wind energy. Since wind power generation is weather-dependent, having the ability to accurately predict its power output has in the past hinted at industry leaders, but leveraging artificial intelligence to Combine weather and satellite data, other weather forecast models and historical analysis, it becomes much easier to form an output power estimate.
In the United States, wind energy is responsible for providing more than 20% of total electricity production in 11 states. It supplies more than 50% of the electricity in Iowa and South Dakota and more than 30% in Kansas, North Dakota and Oklahoma. Overall, in 2021, wind power accounted for about 9% of total electricity generation in the United States.
Globally, the wind power market was valued at US$62.1 billion in 2019, according to Allied Market Research. This figure is expected to reach $127.2 billion by 2027 at a CAGR of 9.3% between 2020 and 2027.
According to the Allied Market Research report, Asia-Pacific accounted for the highest revenue share in 2019. However, for the forecast period between 2020 and 2027, Europe is expected to hold the highest share, due an increase in investments in countries such as France, Norway and the United Kingdom.
The presence of major players such as Siemens, General Electric and Enercon also affects the market value, all of which will have a positive impact on it as they fight to become the market leader.
Drivers affecting the growth of the market include a surge in demand for renewable energy sources. The increase in market value is also attributed to an increase in the number of governments promoting sustainable energy sources to eliminate carbon emissions.
Google Cloud and Engie’s experimental wind farm technology
In June 2022, Google’s cloud division announced a partnership in which the French utility company Engie would use its experimental technology with the aim of increasing the power and efficiency of wind farms.
The technology is meant to also predict the price of wind power which can then be sold in the market, which will benefit both power grids and consumers, while making wind more competitive than fossil fuels. That’s according to Google Cloud’s Director of Global Energy Solutions, Larry Cochrane, who added at news time that working with Engie “can accelerate Europe’s clean energy transition, while laying the groundwork for parks to wind farms around the world benefit from improved forecasts via Artificial Intelligence.”
The companies said that once the project is completed, it will benefit wind farms around the world and that the AI solution will use high performance and scalable data systems and machine learning to support decision making. Most recently, in November 2022, Google launched three new sustainability management apps as part of a collaboration with mCloud Technologies, an AI-powered asset management company.
The apps use mCloud’s AssetCare platform and Google’s cloud services, including Google Earth, Vision AI and Translation AI, as more countries sign agreements to reduce carbon emissions.
According to mCloud, the apps support wind farms using data from Google Earth in combination with mCloud’s AI-based image processing capabilities to optimize wind power generation, eliminate maintenance and labor manual and automate wind turbine inspections. The technology will also be used at oil and gas facilities, allowing teams to detect methane leaks and measure solar intensity, site occupancy and weather conditions.
Vestas Wind Systems uses AI wake steering to generate power from wind turbines
It’s obvious that AI and cloud computing are integral to wind power monitoring, but technology – AI in particular – can also generate wind power, such as Vestas Wind Systems, one of the largest companies in the sector, has achieved it.
Founded in 1945 in Denmark by Peder Hansen, wind turbine maker Vestas uses a specific type of AI technology to generate wind power. Developed with help from Microsoft and Microsoft partner minds.ai, Vestas uses a technology known as wake steering, which combines AI and high-performance computing to generate wind power from turbines.
The concept of wake steering works when upstream turbines with deliberately misaligned yaw operate to divert their wakes from downstream turbines. Doing so then produces an energy yield for the wind farm and therefore generates energy. According to PNAS, the wake steering process in some situations is able to increase energy or power output between 7% and 13% while decreasing variability by up to 72%.
For wind farms and energy providers to be prepared for the future, the integration of AI and cloud computing will be an advantage. Whether technology is used to generate wind power using wake direction, predict power output, or automate manual operations such as wind turbine inspection, AI and the cloud can improve the industry, making operations more manageable, more profitable and ensure it is equipped to meet future demands.
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