As the global population increases and centuries-old infrastructure ages, old world energy shortages will resurface. SLAC researchers leverage AI to help with this problem.

Overpopulation is becoming more of a threat as we approach 7.5 billion people. Common issues in developing countries like Bangladesh will become more and more common worldwide.

Could AI & Clean Energy Solve Power Outages?Click To Tweet
image of electrical outage sign for article on how AI and clean energy can protect economy and over-population
422737 | Pixabay.com

AI Workshopping Existing Tech

Power outages are one of the more serious problems when it comes to overpopulation. To combat this, some researchers turn to artificial intelligence.

Using a neural network, a team from the Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory wants to identify electrical grid vulnerabilities. After identification, the AI would reinforce the holes and help the system recover more quickly if issues arise.

 

The project, codenamed “GRIP” (Grid Resilience and Intelligence Project), aims to become completely autonomous to absorb and mitigate different energy sources and hindrances. Minimal human intervention is one of the ultimate goals.

 

As Phys.org reports, Sila Kiliccote, director of SLAC‘s Grid Integration, Systems and Mobility lab, (GISMo) remarked on the trajectory of the program.

“While the approach will be tested on a large scale in California, Vermont, and the Midwest, we expect it to have national impact, and all the tools we develop will be made available either commercially or as open source code.”

How does the project work in practice?

“The idea is to populate the platform with information about what your particular part of the grid looks like, in terms of things like solar and wind power sources, batteries where energy is stored, and how it’s laid out to distribute power to homes and businesses,” Kiliccote said. “Then you begin to look for anomalies – things that could be configured better.”

From there, energy grids can be broken down into subdivisions. This allows the system to isolate power outages, leaks, and anomalies before they compromise the larger power grid.

The system will work with any energy, regardless of source. Considering the strain on resources overpopulation could have, this aspect is especially useful.

Cleantech & Clean Energy

Due to the long-lasting and detrimental effects of power outages, different energy sources could mean fewer outages. For perspective: North Carolina’s Outer Banks experienced outages lasting weeks in July

image of power outages in Outer Banks North Carolina for article on AI and clean energy to protect economy and over-population
Outer Banks, North Carolina | ABC11 Raleigh-Durham

As a result of a mistake, tourists and local alike had to evacuate. The mistake: someone accidentally cut a transmission line after completed construction on a nearby bridge.

If the Outer Banks had contingency energy sources, they might not have lost millions of dollars in tourism revenue (per the governor). 

Mistakes happen; that’s life, but so is having backup plans. Especially when it comes to overpopulation, such a crippling dependency on a vital part of life isn’t sustainable.

By having multiple sources of energy — specifically clean energy — cities can avoid million dollar mistakes. They could also transition into clean energy using solar or wind power. Of course, they could also adopt AI supervisors like GRIP.

Not Just a Numbers Game

image of windmills as clean energy source for article on how AI and clean energy can help economy and over-population
Suwit_Luangpipatsorn | Pixabay.com

For a long time, the main impetus behind pushing clean energy and cleantech was all about saving the environment. Due to the increased nature of tech, social, and economic integration, it is just as much about saving economies now, too.

Ecosystems that cannot function without electricity. As population strain invites more overloaded circuits, food shortages, and other woes, new solutions like AI and clean energy are our only options for prosperity.

What havoc could an AI overlord wreak on a city’s electrical grid? What would it take for cities to adopt clean energy as more than a contingency plan?

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