Military and Strategic Journal
Issued by the Directorate of Morale Guidance at the General Command of the Armed Forces
United Arab Emirates
Founded in August 1971

2020-04-01

Artificial Intelligence: Changing the Future of Energy and Sustainability

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technologies and techniques have the potential to create somewhere between US$3.5 and US$5.8 trillion in value annually across 19 different industries, according to a recent estimate by McKinsey. As the technology becomes more sophisticated and the understanding of its potential applications improves, AI will continue to fundamentally alter the way many of these 19 industries operate. AI’s presence is already being felt as it unlocks new value, new investment, improved efficiency and better data analysis across every major industry.
 
While most businesses across the world are primarily looking at AI for its ability to generate new revenue and cut operational costs, its potential to boost sustainability is perhaps most exciting to organisations looking for ways to solve the most pressing environmental challenges. In reality, the ecological and economic benefits of AI go hand in hand, as the reduction of waste and creation of better, more efficient ways of doing things continues to save us time, money and minimises the impact on the planet’s overall health. 
 
Current predictions from PwC suggest that by the end of the next decade, AI could unlock a US$5.2 trillion contribution to the global economy but also a 4 per cent reduction of greenhouse gases (GHG). As AI gathers in momentum and sophistication, the future will see a marrying of human and artificial intelligence – an outcome that seems necessary to overcome the pressing problems of climate change and other ecological disasters that are unfolding on an unprecedented scale.
 
Ensuring Water Security for All
How can AI help revitalise conservation of water to ensure water security for all? How is AI cleantech changing the way we view and utilise water across the world today, and how will it affect our future consumption habits?
 
AI can enable the creation of more efficient ‘digital water’ systems. It’s not just water that flows through our pipes and taps every day – invaluable data is steadily flowing alongside it. Increasingly referred to as ‘smart water management’ or just ‘digital water’, such systems place AI at the heart of a new way of efficiently managing water. 
 
For example, August 2019 saw Giza Systems announce that it has been awarded a US$30 million contract to supply and install 120,000 smart water meters in the Northern and West Northern Regions of Saudi Arabia. This will effectively reduce operational costs and water wastage. 
Another demonstrative project is Dubai Electricity & Water Authority’s (DEWA) Smart Grid Station, inaugurated in January 2019, which links smart buildings through an AI and IoT-empowered approach to improve energy and water efficiency and subsequent reduction of water consumption. 
 
Tackling Water Wastage at the Source
AI can enable greater conservation of water from pump to tap. It is becoming an essential tool in the fight against water wastage, in addition to accurately assessing and supplying water demand. This is of particular importance in water-stressed or water-scarce countries. Every litre wasted through leaks, burst pipes and other anomalies is a litre that could save lives.
 
This isn’t merely a regional course, it’s a global one. One recent report suggests that the U.S. alone wastes 7 billion gallons of drinking water per day. With the imperative of reducing such drastic wastage in mind, AI is being employed more widely to analyse water flows real time, sending alerts and shutting off systems automatically whenever leaks and anomalies are encountered. 
 
Utilising AI in such a preventive manner is one of the aims of the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, which was introduced in 2017 to ensure long-term sustainable access to water during both normal and emergency conditions by following the latest guidelines from the World Health Organisation and by implementing the most advanced emerging technologies in the water industry. Since its induction, the strategy’s policies have focused on enhancing water resources to steadily push towards its two main goals of reducing water consumption across the emirates by 21 per cent by 2030 while increasing water recycling to 95 per cent. 
 
Enabling Smart Farming
According to the World Bank, agriculture is responsible for approximately 70 per cent of all water withdrawals globally, making it the biggest water-using sector by far. Even more remarkably, reports from the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) suggest that as much as 42 per cent of said water withdrawals end up being wasted.
 
This startling and unsustainable level of inefficiency needs to change and is already prompting the acceleration of smart farming techniques powered by AI solutions. A widening range of systems and solutions are combining to create the digitally-empowered farm of the future, which utilises minimum water while minimising waste.
 
Transforming the Future of Energy
AI continues to spur the widespread integration of innovative technologies throughout energy operations of every type, ranging from optimising hydrocarbon energy production, to the generation of renewable energy formats like solar and wind. The question that drives energy policy in the Middle East and beyond is how can AI allow us to satisfy our rising global demand for reliable electricity in a clean and sustainable manner?
 
Predicting Energy Supply and Demand
AI can balance the equation. We have become used to the idea that whenever we flip a light switch, the lights will come on immediately and stay on. This is a more simplistic way of looking at the golden equation of the energy market, which is: demand of energy =energy produced. Despite its drawbacks, fossil fuel exploitation has always enjoyed the advantage of allowing for entirely plannable and predictable energy production rates.
 
Sadly, this is not the case with energy produced from renewable sources.  While inherently clean and increasingly becoming cheaper, the main renewables – solar and wind – aren’t as predictable as they rely on meteorological factors. 
 
Fortunately, AI is ideally suited to making renewable energy production predictable and more reliable. It is capable of leveraging masses of historical meteorological data to help us predict future production levels more accurately. For example, NEXTracker has developed and integrated its TrueCapture smart control system within 2GW of solar facilities worldwide to continuously optimise the tracking algorithm of each individual row of solar panels in response to site features and changing weather conditions. 
 
AI is ideally suited to providing faster and more accurate analysis of data to supply the strategic insight necessary to improve the efficiency of energy production operations. This concept applies to all energy-producing facilities – oil, gas and coal as well as renewables.
 
Tackling Energy Supply and Demand in a Smarter Way 
AI is powering the rise of the smart grid. Smart grids are expected to be the biggest emerging market in the world by 2025, as the need to optimise the demand and supply equation around the world’s growing energy demand requires a smarter set of solutions. 
Regional examples of this approach include the DEWA/Enabla Virtual Power Plant (VPP). 
 
Announced in April 2019, this joint venture between DEWA and Canadian company Enabla will see the construction of an AI-powered VPP, which will function as a smart network made up of solar energy, battery storage, and flexible energy loads. The UAE already has the world’s largest VPP operating in Abu Dhabi. With a capacity of 108MW/648 MWh, it stands testament to the potential of the technology’s application in the Middle East. Looking ahead, Saudi Arabia is aiming to become the largest smart grid developer in the MENA region.
 
Making Renewable Energy Production More Sustainable
Current manufacturing techniques used in the creation of solar panels require the use of rare earth elements and temperatures of 2,000˚C, which is so high that it requires fossil fuel-generated power to achieve. So despite the clean and renewable energy it provides during its lifecycle, each solar panel is far from being emissions-free. 
 
AI is set to change this, as with AI in the picture, many of the mundane and complex trials and tasks can be automatically undertaken and analysed much faster so that the next gen solar panels can be manufactured without incurring a huge ecological burden.
 
AI can be leveraged for the purposes of testing for suitable materials to be used in next generation solar panels to reduce the economic and ecological costs of their manufacture as well as to recycle them at the end of their life cycle. AI can thus help make solar the truly green energy source it needs to be.
 
Transforming the Future of Smart Cities 
The interconnected nature of the smart city ideally requires the processing of truly vast quantities of data and the control of millions (soon to be billions) of interconnected devices. Naturally, AI is a technology that is wholly embedded in the future of smart city design and delivery, as it will give human operators in smart city government, services and utilities the means to navigate and harness the true power of connectivity.
 
Keeping the Smart City Going
Cities across the world are suffering from worsening traffic due to rapid urbanisation outstripping the city’s capacity to absorb cars and commuters in such quantities. Mobility challenges go beyond mere congestion, as city inhabitants also need easy, reliable and efficient connections between home, work and other areas that are important to them. 
 
AI can help design better transportation networks, alleviate parking issues and improve the efficiency of maintenance and upgrade works while minimising their negative impacts on the city’s busy population.
 
In the Middle East, and in other regions with smart city aspirations, the need for smart mobility capable of keeping expanding cities on the move is leading to the creation of ever more impressive and technologically advanced transport systems.

From flying taxis, to autonomous city centre cabs, unibikes, the Hyperloop and smart parking initiatives, the near future of travel is set to be a much more convenient and environment-friendly prospect.
 
Dubai is particularly visible when it comes to regional efforts to make smart mobility a reality. The Dubai Autonomous Transportation Strategy was launched by the Dubai Future Foundation in conjunction with Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) to completely overhaul urban congestion and bring about true smart mobility via the use of autonomous vehicles to service 25 per cent of all journeys conducted across the emirate by 2030. 
 
By this time, the project’s initiators predict that AI-controlled autonomous transport systems will handle more than 5 million trips per day, freeing up time for Dubai’s citizens and visitors while increasing their safety and saving AED 22 billion annually in the bargain. 
 
The year 2019 saw the trial of driverless taxis in the Dubai Silicon Oasis area. If successful in their test runs, autonomous cabs will provide an essential ‘last-mile’ solution to be layered in with Dubai Metro and Tram systems. Also this year, the RTA began testing two models of “Sky Pods” in partnership with Skyway Greentech Co. The first is a small, lightweight Unibike designed for two riders and can attain a top speed of 150kmph. The second, a larger model is the Unicar, designed for longer journeys. 
 
Perhaps the most exciting innovation in this area is the Abu Dhabi/Dubai Hyperloop, which will begin construction in Q3 of this year, with the first 10km due to open in 2020. Connecting Dubai to Abu Dhabi with a journey time of just 12 minutes, the Hyperloop will undoubtedly cement the ‘smart’ status of both cities. 
 
Securing the Smart City
AI can strengthen cybersecurity efforts. The entirely interconnected nature of the smart city is the foundation of its strength, yet it also continues to pose worrying questions about potential vulnerabilities should malicious actors manage to breach the city’s security and carry out attacks on its infrastructure.
Globally, cybercrime continues to rise in frequency and severity, with reported data security breaches increasing by 42 per cent from 2018 and the annual cost of cybercrime reaching US$608 billion globally between 2014 and 2017. 
 
This present and evolving threat has been carefully considered by the UAE Government for years and the end of June saw the launch of its National Cybersecurity Strategy as a means to keep its growing smart city infrastructure safe. 
 
Protecting the Smart City
AI can strengthen policing efforts. Besides, a growing range of threats in cyberspace, cities face all manner of physical threats on a daily basis. By enabling real-time monitoring, analytics, and decision-making, AI is already proving an invaluable asset in aiding police and other security organisations in their continual efforts to combat crime and other threats. 
 
The presence of AI is already being felt on the streets of major cities in the Middle East as police forces look for a new edge against crime. For example, the Dubai Police force has been at the forefront of integrating technological innovation into its police work for well over a decade.

From drones to actual robot police officers, the latest innovation from the Dubai Police headquarters’ artificial intelligence department are AI-supported hoverbikes that may enter the field as early as 2020. The bikes are said to be capable of reaching 96 kilometres an hour and can hover up to five metres above the ground.
 
Delivering Truly Smart Infrastructure
AI is creating the next generation of buildings and services. While the power of the smart city lies in its interconnected nature, with all elements sharing data and informing the strategic decisions of a central network, AI and associated technologies are also driving significant efficiency and sustainability improvements in individual buildings and infrastructure elements as well. 
 
The ability for an AI-controlled network to oversee and analyse the usage of every light, water tap, HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning) unit and even the very façade of a building gives it the ability to satisfy the needs and preferences of the occupants while eliminating wasteful or dangerous situations by shutting off elements that are not currently in use. 
 
With AI in control, the smart city will be a safer, healthier and greener place. For example,  the headquarters of UAE-based sustainability pioneer Bee’ah is one of the smartest buildings in the world. Powered by a range of Microsoft’s latest AI and smart building solutions, the building features digital workspaces to smart back-office integration, smart lobby-visitor management to smart security and, of course, smart environmental controls.
 
Enabling Energy Efficiency
AI is pooling our energy resources for better use. On average, cities – which represent 65 per cent of global energy demand – use a higher percentage of renewable electricity than countries. Dotted around the world, there are over 100 cities that maintain a 90-100 per cent renewable electricity usage rate. However, this is only one part of the sustainable smart city energy equation. A recent report estimated that in the GCC alone, governments could save up to US$10 billion in infrastructure investment in 2020 by deploying and integrating smart grids for additional efficiency gains across multiple cities. 
 
Promoting Sustainable Urban Planning
AI is helping us design the smart cities of our dreams. AI can seamlessly integrate data from traffic cameras, smart meters, sensors and monitoring equipment of every variety to build a more accurate picture of how people use cities. AI can read license plates and recognise faces by the hundreds of thousands every hour. 
 
In the UAE, the government office Smart Dubai has built a first-of-its kind AI lab to help achieve its citywide smart transformation vision to empower, deliver and promote an efficient, seamless and safe city experience for all. 
 
Contemplating the Future of AI
AI will combat predicted water shortages affecting 5 billion people by 2050: While AI usage across the water industry globally is still in its infancy, its potential is compelling to the point of undeniable necessity as we need to get smarter about our shared water usage, fast. For the water industry, the ability to use AI solutions to learn and problem-solve at an unprecedented pace will be critical for tackling water scarcity issues brought on by climate change and increasing population growth. 
 
US$300bn of Oil & Gas operations value is expected to be gained from AI by 2025: AI is a cornerstone technology for developing the next generation of renewable power plants as well as optimising existing hydrocarbon facilities to minimise their ecological impact as they are phased out. This extends to the offshore oil and gas industry’s activities too: even in the relatively short term, AI improvements are expected to add US$300 billion in value to MENA Oil & Gas operations by 2025.
 
With AI’s assistance, the dream of a 100 per cent renewable and sustainable power plant is finally within reach. Expect AI to become more deeply integrated into the foundations of energy industries in the Middle East and across the world, particularly in nations with smart city ambitions, as clean, renewable energy is the literal driver of the smart city ideal. 
 
AI is predicted to create US$127bn savings from food waste alone by 2030: 
With its early adopters already displaying viable cost savings and reduced ecological impacts, AI is forcing a complete rethink of how we deal with our waste, how we can manage it better and, crucially, generate less of it. In terms of food waste alone, AI is predicted to create savings of $127 billion globally by 2030. 
 
Reference Text/Photo:
 

Add Comment

Your comment was successfully added!

Visitors Comments

No Comments

Related Topics

FRIGATES OF THE FUTURE

Read More

Saab Swordfish MPA: Offering Cutting-Edge Performance

Read More

Emerging New Technologies Define Future Security Scenarios

Read More

Multi-Domain Battle Management

Read More

Mars Landings Point to a Human Future

Read More

Hybrid Warfare and its Implications for the Region

Read More
Close

2020-04-30 Current issue
Pervious issues
2017-05-13
2014-03-16
2012-01-01
2014-01-01
2015-03-01
2016-12-04
2015-03-01
2016-12-04
.

Voting

?What about new design for our website

  • Excellent
  • Very Good
  • Good
Voting Number 1647