The growing energy footprint of artificial intelligence

Paper by Alex de Vries: “Throughout 2022 and 2023, artificial intelligence (AI) has witnessed a period of rapid expansion and extensive, large-scale application. Prominent tech companies such as Alphabet and Microsoft significantly increased their support for AI in 2023, influenced by the successful launch of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, a conversational generative AI chatbot that reached 100 million users in an unprecedented 2 months. In response, Microsoft and Alphabet introduced their own chatbots, Bing Chat and Bard, respectively.

 This accelerated development raises concerns about the electricity consumption and potential environmental impact of AI and data centers. In recent years, data center electricity consumption has accounted for a relatively stable 1% of global electricity use, excluding cryptocurrency mining. Between 2010 and 2018, global data center electricity consumption may have increased by only 6%.

 There is increasing apprehension that the computational resources necessary to develop and maintain AI models and applications could cause a surge in data centers’ contribution to global electricity consumption.

This commentary explores initial research on AI electricity consumption and assesses the potential implications of widespread AI technology adoption on global data center electricity use. The piece discusses both pessimistic and optimistic scenarios and concludes with a cautionary note against embracing either extreme…(More)”.

Unleashing the power of data for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure

Report by Thomas Deloison: “As the world moves toward widespread electric vehicle (EV) adoption, a key challenge lies ahead: deploying charging infrastructure rapidly and effectively. Solving this challenge will be essential to decarbonize transport, which has a higher reliance on fossil fuels than any other sector and accounts for a fifth of global carbon emissions. However, the companies and governments investing in charging infrastructure face significant hurdles, including high initial capital costs and difficulties related to infrastructure planning, permitting, grid connections and grid capacity development.

Data has the power to facilitate these processes: increased predictability and optimized planning and infrastructure management go a long way in easing investments and accelerating deployment. Last year, members of the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) demonstrated that digital solutions based on data sharing could reduce carbon emissions from charging by 15% and unlock crucial grid capacity and capital efficiency gains.

Exceptional advances in data, analytics and connectivity are making digital solutions a potent tool to plan and manage transport, energy and infrastructure. Thanks to the deployment of sensors and the rise of connectivity,  businesses are collecting information faster than ever before, allowing for data flows between physical assets. Charging infrastructure operators, automotive companies, fleet operators, energy providers, building managers and governments collect insights on all aspects of electric vehicle charging infrastructure (EVCI), from planning and design to charging experiences at the station.

The real value of data lies in its aggregationThis will require breaking down siloes across industries and enabling digital collaboration. A digital action framework released by WBCSD, in collaboration with Arcadis, Fujitsu and other member companies and partners, introduces a set of recommendations for companies and governments to realize the full potential of digital solutions and accelerate EVCI deployments:

  • Map proprietary data, knowledge gaps and digital capacity across the value chain to identify possible synergies. The highest value potential from digital solutions will lie at the nexus of infrastructure, consumer behavior insights, grid capacity and transport policy. For example, to ensure the deployment of charging stations where they will be most needed and at the right capacity level, it is crucial to plan investments within energy grid capacity, spatial constraints and local projected demand for EVs.
  • Develop internal data collection and storage capacity with due consideration for existing structures for data sharing. A variety of schemes allow actors to engage in data sharing or monetization. Yet, their use is limited by mismatched use of data standards and specification and process uncertainty. Companies must build a strong understanding of these structures internally by providing internal training and guidance, and invest in sound data collection, storage and analysis capacity.
  • Foster a policy environment that supports digital collaboration across sectors and industries. Digital policies must provide incentives and due diligence frameworks to guide data exchanges across industries and support the adoption of common standards and protocols. For instance, it will be crucial to integrate linkages with energy systems and infrastructure beyond roads in the rollout of the European mobility data space…(More)”.

Citizen Participation and Knowledge Support in Urban Public Energy Transition—A Quadruple Helix Perspective

Paper by Peter Nijkamp et al: “Climate change, energy transition needs and the current energy crisis have prompted cities to implement far-reaching changes in public energy supply. The present paper seeks to map out the conditions for sustainable energy provision and use, with a particular view to the role of citizens in a quadruple helix context. Citizen participation is often seen as a sine qua non for a successful local or district energy policy in an urban area but needs due scientific and digital support based on evidence-based knowledge (using proper user-oriented techniques such as Q-analysis). The paper sets out to explore the citizen engagement and knowledge base for drastic energy transitions in the city based on the newly developed “diabolo” model, in which in particular digital tools (e.g., dashboards, digital twins) are proposed as useful tools for the interface between citizens and municipal policy. The approach adopted in this paper is empirically illustrated for local energy policy in the city of Rotterdam…(More)”.

Global Renewables Watch

About: “The Global Renewables Watch is a first-of-its-kind living atlas intended to map and measure all utility-scale solar and wind installations on Earth using artificial intelligence (AI) and satellite imagery, allowing users to evaluate clean energy transition progress and track trends over time. It also provides unique spatial data on land use trends to help achieve the dual aims of the environmental protection and increasing renewable energy capacity….(More)”

Energy Data Sharing: The Case of EV Smart Charging

Paper by Sean Ennis and Giuseppe Colangelo: “The green and digital transitions are concomitantly underway. In its upcoming Action Plan on Digitalisation of Energy, the European Commission aims to develop a digital-driven “European energy data space” to allow for data sharing and system integration between the energy sector and other sectors, e.g. mobility.

CERRE  has begun working at the intersection of digital and energy with a new, cross-sector research initiative aimed at identifying the business case and governance principles for the development of a European energy data space, using the concrete example of smart electric vehicle charging points, which will play an important role in increasing the flexibility and efficiency of the energy sector.

Key research questions to be addressed as part of the project are:

  • What property rights are included within the smart charging data?
  • What is the business case for industry players and customers to share their data?
  • What should be the overarching principles governing a European energy data space?
  • What government interventions or data standards are required to make specific use cases successful for achieving green transition goals?..(More)”.

The Bristol Approach for Citizen Engagement in the Energy Market

Interview by Sebastian Klemm with Lorraine Hudson Anna Higueras and Lucia Errandonea:”… the Twinergy engagement framework with 5 iterative steps:

  1. Identification of the communities.
  2. Co-Design Technologies and Incentives for participating in the project.
  3. Deploy Technologies at people’s home and develop new skills within the communities.
  4. Measure Changes with a co-assessment approach.
  5. Reflect on Outcomes to improve engagement and delivery.

KWMC and Ideas for Change have worked with pilot leaders, through interviews and workshops, to understand their previous experience with engagement methods and gather knowledge about local contexts, citizens and communities who will be engaged.

The Citizen Engagement Framework includes a set of innovative tools to guide pilot leaders in planning their interventions. These tools are the EDI matrix, the persona cards, scenario cards and a pilot timeline.

  1. The EDI Matrix that aims to foster reflection in the recruitment process ensuring that everyone has equal opportunities to participate.
  2. The Persona Cards that prompt an in-depth reflection about participants background, motivations and skills.
  3. The Scenario Cards to imagine possible situations that could be experienced during the pilot program.
  4. Pilot Timeline that provides an overview of key activities to be conducted over the course of the pilot and supports planning in advance….(More)”.

The Practice and Potential of Blockchain Technologies for Extractive Sector Governance

Press Release: “Important questions are being raised about whether blockchain technologies can contribute to solving governance challenges in the mining, oil and gas sectors. This report seeks to begin addressing such questions, with particular reference to current blockchain applications and transparency efforts in the extractive sector.

It summarizes analysis by The Governance Lab (GovLab) at the New York University Tandon School of Engineering and the Natural Resource Governance Institute (NRGI). The study focused in particular on three activity areas: licensing and contracting, corporate registers and beneficial ownership, and commodity trading and supply chains.

Key messages:

  • Blockchain technology could potentially reduce transparency challenges and information asymmetries in certain parts of the extractives value chain. However, stakeholders considering blockchain technologies need a more nuanced understanding of problem definition, value proposition and blockchain attributes to ensure that such interventions could positively impact extractive sector governance.
  • The blockchain field currently lacks design principles, governance best practices, and open data standards that could ensure that the technology helps advance transparency and good governance in the extractive sector. Our analysis offers an initial set of design principles that could act as a starting point for a more targeted approach to the use of blockchain in improving extractives governance.
  • Most blockchain projects are preliminary concepts or pilots, with little demonstration of how to effectively scale up successful experiments, especially in countries with limited resources.
  • Meaningful impact evaluations or peer-reviewed publications that assess impact, including on the implications of blockchain’s emissions footprint, are still lacking. More broadly, a shared research agenda around blockchain could help address questions that are particularly ripe for future research.
  • Transition to a blockchain-enabled system is likely to be smoother and faster in cases when digital records are already available than when a government or company attempts to move from an analog system to one leveraging blockchain.
  • Companies or governments using blockchain are more likely to implement it successfully when they have a firm grasp of the technology, its strengths, its weaknesses, and how it fits into the broader governance landscape. But often these actors are often overly reliant on and empowering of blockchain technology vendors and startups, which can lead to “lock-in”, whereby the market gets stuck with an approach even though market participants may be better off with an alternative.
  • The role played by intermediaries like financial institutions or registrars can determine the success or failure of blockchain applications….(More)”.

Rethinking citizen engagement for an inclusive energy transition

Urban Futures Studio: “In July 2020, we published our new essay ‘What, How and Who? Designing inclusive interactions in the energy transition’ (Bronsvoort, Hoffman and Hajer, 2020). In this essay, we argue that how the interactions between citizens and governments are shaped and enacted, has a large influence on who gets involved and to what extend people feel heard. To apply this approach to cases, we distinguish between three dimensions of interaction:

  • What (the defined object or issue at hand)
  • How (the setting and staging of the interaction)
  • Who (the target groups and protagonists of the process)

Focusing on the issue of form, we argue that processes for interaction between citizens and governments should be designed in a way that is more future oriented, organized over the long term, in closer proximity to citizens and with attention to the powerful role of ‘in-betweeners’ and ‘in-between’ places such as community houses, where people can meet to deliberate on the wide range of possible futures for their neighbourhood. 

Towards a multiplicity of future visions for sustainable cities
The energy transition has major consequences for the way we live, work, move and consume. For such complex transitions, governments need to engage and collaborate with citizens and other stakeholders. Their engagement enriches existing visions on future neighbourhoods, inform local policies and stimulate change. But how do you shape and organize such a participatory process? While governments use a wide range of public participation methods, many researchers have emphasized the limitations of many of these conventional methods with regard to the inclusion of diverse groups of citizens and in bridging discrepancies between government approaches and people’s lived experiences.

Rethinking citizen engagement for an inclusive energy transition
To help rethink citizen engagement, the Urban Futures Studio investigates existing and new approaches to citizen engagement and how they are practised by governments and societal actors. Following our essay research, our next project on citizen engagement includes a study on its relation to experimentation as a novel mode of governance. The goal of this research is to show insights into how citizen engagement manifests itself in the context of experimental governance on the neighbourhood level. By investigating the interactions between citizens, governments and other stakeholders in different types of participatory projects, we aim to gain a better understanding of how citizens are engaged and included in energy transition experiments and how we can improve its level of inclusion.

We use a relational approach of citizen engagement, by which we view participatory processes as collective practices that both shape and are shaped by their ‘matter of concern’, their public and their setting and staging. This view places emphasis on the form and conditions under which the interaction takes place. For example, the initiative of Places of Hope showed that engagement can be organised in diverse ways and can create new collectives….(More)”.

Do nudgers need budging? A comparative analysis of European smart meter implementation

Paper by Sarah Giest: “Nudging is seen to complement or replace existing policy tools by altering people’s choice architectures towards behaviors that align with government aims, but has fallen short in meeting those targets. Crucially, governments do not nudge citizens directly, but need private agents to nudge their consumers. Based on this notion, the paper takes on an institutional approach towards nudging. Rather than looking at the relationship between nudger and nudgee, the research analyses the regulatory and market structures that affect nudge implementation by private actors, captured by the ‘budge’ idea. Focusing on the European energy policy domain, the paper analyses the contextual factors of green nudges that are initiated by Member States, and implemented by energy companies. The findings show that in the smart meter context, there are regulatory measures that affect implementation of smart meters and that government has a central role to ‘budge’, due to the dependence on private agents….(More)”.

Open data for electricity modeling: Legal aspects

Paper by Lion Hirth: “Power system modeling is data intensive. In Europe, electricity system data is often available from sources such as statistical offices or system operators. However, it is often unclear if these data can be legally used for modeling, and in particular if such use infringes intellectual property rights. This article reviews the legal status of power system data, both as a guide for data users and for data publishers.

It is based on interpretation of the law, a review of the secondary literature, an analysis of the licenses used by major data distributors, expert interviews, and a series of workshops. A core finding is that in many cases the legality of current practices is doubtful: in fact, it seems likely that modelers infringe intellectual property rights quite regularly. This is true for industry analysis but also academic researchers. A straightforward solution is open data – the idea that data can be freely used, modified, and shared by anyone for any purpose. To be open, it is not sufficient for data to be accessible free of cost, it must also come with an open data license, the most common types of which are also reviewed in this paper….(More)”.