As average global temperatures climb, the majority of countries have pledged to reduce their carbon emissions – a tall ask considering our dependence on fossil fuels. However, our ingenuity and creativity continue to apply hardware and software solutions to the future of the planet.
AI and the electrical grid
The old energy grid is inefficient. We cannot predict energy demands in small regions to coordinate with energy supply. Developments in artificial intelligence mean we will be able to predict demand and coordinate energy on a real-time basis. AI coupled with smart energy meters in the home will make energy distribution and storage more effective. Moreover, renewable energy production tends to be intermittent and with deep learning algorithms this can be automatically managed.
3D printing and manufacturing
Currently, countries must import finished goods from other countries, requiring vast amounts of energy for freighting. However, 3D printing may be able to solve this. Large scale 3D printing would allow countries to import only the raw materials needed to print products on-site. Importing raw materials takes up less space for imports but also, 3D printing is flexible in the product it can make; hence, whole factories do not need to be changed to produce a new product. With 3D printing projected to be worth $33billion by 2023 and the price of printers reducing, we can expect some large changes here in the future.
Eco Cloud Technologies
Whether cloud technologies can be eco-friendly is controversial. Data centres require huge volumes of energy, consuming about 3 per cent of global electricity, to allow 24hr access to stored data. With more businesses and customers choosing to store their data elsewhere, energy consumption continues to rise.
On the other hand, companies using cloud technology can benefit. India’s largest green energy companies Bharat Light and Power are using cloud technologies to build an infrastructure to monitor and optimise wind farms. We can expect in the future that data centres will become more energy efficient through new technologies and their benefit to the environment will become more positive.