The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) is launching a £1.5m artificial intelligence (AI) innovation programme that will see the technology put to use to curb the UK’s carbon emissions.
The AI for Decarbonisaton Programme, as it is known, forms part of the government’s broader £1bn Net Zero Innovation Portfolio, which was announced in March 2021 to provide funding for low-carbon technologies to help bring them to market quicker.
The programme is made up of two separate streams for grant funding, which will be launched in phases.
The first, worth up to £500,000, will be used to co-fund a virtual centre of excellence on AI innovation and decarbonisation through to March 2025. The second, meanwhile, is worth up to £1m and is designed to fund projects that will accelerate the development of AI technologies that enable decarbonisation.
In a statement, BEIS said it was specifically looking to fund projects where AI is being used to accelerate the UK’s renewable energy transition, ones focused on improving energy productivity and fuel switching, and those that will help the agricultural sector cut its emissions.
BEIS said it also intends to follow this programme next year with additional funding that will be used to support “priority areas in AI innovation” identified by the virtual centre of excellence as being “critical for achieving net-zero”.
As well as helping to decarbonise the economy, BEIS further claims the programme has the potential to increase the AI technology’s market growth in the UK, as well as cut the cost of energy for a more competitive UK industry.
George Freeman, minister for science, research and innovation, said the UK is home to one of the world’s “most advanced AI economies”, and that the technology is pervasive throughout society already, but there are still new use cases to be uncovered for it.
“The AI for Decarbonisation programme offers an exciting opportunity to leverage and develop the UK’s outstanding expertise in the field,” he said.
“Putting this rapidly evolving technology into action will enable us to save energy costs for businesses and households, create high-value, skilled jobs and kickstart millions of pounds of private investment while supporting our net-zero targets.”
The programme’s launch follows the publication of the 2021 National AI strategy, which set out ways that AI could be used to help the UK meet its net-zero targets.
The programme is accepting applications now and is due to close on 19 January 2023.