AI – and a start-up mindset – can fast-track clean energy projects
Jun 28, 2023

“As we move into the second half of this crucial year for climate action, two facts stand out: One, 82% of global energy consumption still comes from fossil fuels, despite the growth of renewables in the power sector. Two, there is no plan to turn this around any time soon,” write Exponential Roadmap Initiative Co-founders Owen Gaffney and Johan Falk together with Aaron Vaden-Youmans of Grimshaw Architects in Context, published by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

They acknowledge that the documents coming out of the recent Summit for a New Global Financing Pact all stress the role of private capital and make repeated mention of clean energy projects, a concrete plan for making such projects a reality is lacking. But, they say:

The stark reality is that without a robust pipeline of clean energy projects across the globe, achieving climate stability within proximity to the 1.5°C target will be an insurmountable challenge.

wind turbine farm in Tunisia

A comprehensive global project pipeline for clean energy is as of yet lacking. Photo: Dana Smillie / World Bank

They propose leveraging the power of machine-learning and artificial intelligence to create an international platform that, within a year, identifies clean energy infrastructure projects worth one trillion U.S. dollars. Within 24 months, this platform would expand its scope, identifying projects worth an unprecedented two trillion dollars.

The benefits of this initiative extend beyond developers and investors. Governments gain access to off-the-shelf, detailed and practical roadmaps that support their journey toward achieving net-zero targets. International donors and development partners can anticipate a nimble and rapidly expanding platform that delivers a pipeline of low-cost, sustainable electricity. The platform, particularly in emerging markets like Asia, Africa, and South America, unlocks untapped solar and wind opportunities, providing low-cost and sustainable electricity options.

Read the full proposal in Context, by Thomson Reuters Foundation.

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