The government has launched a new innovation program that will support the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce the UK’s carbon emissions. The AI for Decarbonisation Programme, backed by £1.5 million in funding, forms part of the government’s £1 billion Net Zero Innovation Portfolio and comprises separate streams of grant funding to be launched in 2 initial stages.
Stream 1, worth up to £500,000, will be made available to co-fund a virtual center of excellence on AI innovation and decarbonization through March 2025, while Stream 2, worth up to £1 million, will fund innovation projects which further the development of AI technologies to support decarbonization.
Later in 2023, the government intends to make additional funding available to support priority areas in AI innovation identified by the virtual center of excellence as being critical for achieving net zero.
Science Minister George Freeman said: ”The UK is one of the world’s most advanced AI economies, and AI technology is already having a transformative impact on our economy and society. But there is tremendous potential to do more. The AI for Decarbonisation program offers an exciting opportunity to leverage and develop the UK’s outstanding expertise in the field. Putting this rapidly-evolving technology into action will enable us to save energy costs for businesses and households, create high-value, skilled jobs, and kickstart millions of pounds of private investment while supporting our net zero targets”.
The program’s objective is to stimulate further innovation in the UK in the AI sector, drive growth and achieve our net zero ambitions by encouraging collaboration in the field across the technology, energy, and industrial sectors. The program builds on ideas developed in the National AI Strategy published last year which set out the ways in which AI is able to support the UK in meeting its decarbonization targets.
Projects specifically encouraged to bid for funding include uses of AI which could enable a faster transition to renewable energy, decarbonize industry by improving energy productivity and fuel switching, and decrease emissions in the agricultural sector.
The AI for Decarbonisation Programme is anticipated to increase market growth in the UK, reduce the cost of energy for a more competitive UK industry, leverage private investment in AI, and increase the consideration of ethics, bias, and equity in AI technologies with decarbonization applications.