Tech firms are always looking for the latest and best investment to promote sustainable energy. A new collaboration between Microsoft, SSE Renewables and Avanade is fueling the creation of what’s being called the Azure Digital Twins; this project in IoT technology is meant to encourage the sector to develop renewable energy solutions with a positive impact on ecosystems.
The collaboration will involve deploying Microsoft’s technology through Avanade and SSE Renewables to monitor changes in the atmosphere, reefs, marine and bird life around wind farms. This data will be stored in Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and then used to build a digital replica of sites, which can be seen on mobile devices and headsets to help SSE Renewables understand how developments are affecting an environment in real time. This is meant to improve on more inefficient methods of collecting data, such as sending divers to count fish. By using Azure IoT to automate the process, SSE Renewables hopes companies installing wind turbines understand the impact of new builds and how to minimize their impact. It will also help illustrate how the environmental and infrastructural worlds interact.
There are currently plans to deploy the technology on an offshore wind project in the Dutch North Sea, which will support the Dutch government’s offshore wind targets. Later the project is expected to roll out globally.
This technology illustrates the controversial issue of using AI to help the environment. Using this type of technology, like in this Microsoft collaboration, inevitably takes a lot of energy to build, train and deploy. However, while in use, it can provide essential data necessary to show exactly where beneficial changes can be made. Microsoft even has a special program called AI for Earth, which is meant to put the Microsoft Cloud and AI into the hands of those working to solve global environment changes. According to the site, AI can give more accurate predictions of climate change, can help people monitor the health of farms and model Earth’s water supply to help conserve and protect fresh water.
It remains to be seen if this new technology, among the others rolling out, will outweigh the potential downsides of producing and perfecting AI. For now, I’m encouraged that tech giants are using their strength for good.