Utilities can increase their efficiency by using more Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology, such as software to predict demand swings in the power grid or to control home appliances, consultancy firm, Roland Berger said.
European utilities could achieve efficiency gains of up to a fifth over the next five years using such technology, the company said, adding that less than a quarter of firms had a strategy to do this.
Power firms across Europe, which previously depended on coal or gas-fired power plants, are having to adapt to the expanding use of renewable power sources.
They are facing a profit squeeze as wholesale electricity prices have fallen.
“Companies need to respond to this change and come up with new business models,” Torsten Henzelmann, partner at Roland Berger.
“To do that, they need new technologies such as artificial intelligence.”
The rise of renewable such as solar and wind that provide intermittent supply, has increased the need for intelligent IT systems to balance demand and supply swings.
“The need is so as companies seek to meet energy and carbon emissions targets,’’ the consultancy said.
Utilities have started ploughing tens of billions of euros in investments into their grids.
The ploughing is sparking a wave of Merger and Acquisition (M&A) deals and collaborations in the energy sector, with AI technology being one focus area.
E.ON struck a deal last week with San Francisco-based start-up Sight Machine to offer software that uses machine learning to improve manufacturing processes and lower energy costs.
E. ON is one of Germany’s largest energy companies.
AI could be used for heating, lighting and other household appliances to help them adapt to the daily habits of consumers and use energy more efficiently, Roland Berger said. (Reuters/NAN)