Google supports the start-up of the former DeepMind employee “Solar Forecasting”

Part of the Stafford Hill solar energy project collects energy from the sun in Rutland, Vt. With the completion of the project developed by Green Mountain Power, Vermont’s largest electric utility, the city of Rutland, it claimed it had more solar capacity, 7.8 megawatts, per capita than any other city in the New England region.

Wilson Ring | AP

LONDON – Google supports a climate change startup founded by a former DeepMind employee through its philanthropic arm Google.org.

Open Climate Fix, a nonprofit lab focused on reducing greenhouse gas emissions, announced Tuesday that it received over £ 500,000 from Google.org’s Impact Challenge on Climate, which has provided € 10 million to fund new greenhouse technologies (USD 686,350) was awarded.

The London-based start-up is aiming to set up an online forecast service for solar power for Great Britain and Europe.

The service aims to use a combination of satellite images and new artificial intelligence software to predict the cloud cover, which determines how much electricity solar panels can generate.

Jack Kelly, co-founder of Open Climate Fix and former research engineer at DeepMind owned by Alphabet, told CNBC on Tuesday that the UK is currently “turning many fossil fuel generators to less than full capacity” in case “a large cloud passes and covers Cornwall. “

Those generators are much less efficient when shut down, Kelly said.

“It would be more economical and more cost-effective to run a small number of generators closer to their maximum, but that requires better predictions because you are running the system with less headroom,” he added.

Open Climate Fix hopes its solar forecasting service will provide electricity grid operators with better forecasts so they can make more accurate forecasts.

Kelly said the company is currently in talks with National Grid, which owns and operates the infrastructure that powers homes and businesses across the UK. National Grid also spoke to DeepMind at one point, but ultimately the discussions came to nothing and climate change has fallen on the agenda at DeepMind.

The entrepreneur added that many old energy companies are not very good at innovation.

“It’s not your fault,” he said. “They have more than 100 years of heritage building large pieces of physical hardware, and they have not been innovators in software and data in the past.”

“We hope that through cutting-edge research and modern approaches to building computer systems, the efficiency of the electricity system can be massively improved.”

Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of DeepMind, told The Guardian newspaper in 2016 that despite the fact that it was five years old and had hundreds of employees, no one had ever left his company. A few years later, DeepMind now has around 1,000 employees and several former employees have quit to start their own business.

Other examples include former DeepMind energy leader Jim Gao and research engineer Vedavyas Panneershelvam, who now runs an AI company called Phaidra. Former DeepMind technical director Andrew Eland left to create a new startup to explore ways to improve cities and communities.

Rowan Barnett, Head of Google.org for EMEA and APAC, said in a statement: “Among the many applications we received for our Google.org Impact Challenge on Climate, the expert jury was won over by Open Climate Fix’s innovative and technology-driven approach . “

“We know that artificial intelligence can have a transformative impact when applied to climate change challenges and we are excited to support this work.”

Kelly said Google’s money will mainly be used to expand the size of his team, which currently consists of three people.

Google also backed a company called Normative, which helps companies generate carbon reports automatically, and Dark Matter Labs, which is building a financial platform to support investments in urban forest management and restoration.

Other tech giants like Microsoft and Amazon are also investing heavily in technologies that have the potential to reduce carbon emissions. as did the billionaire founders of the company.

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