back to article UK awards £1.73M to AI projects to advance net zero goals

As the world struggles to keep up with decarbonization pledges, the UK government is dumping £1.73 million ($2.2 million) into a series of AI projects to help it meet 2050 net zero goals. The Department for Energy Security and Net Zero is funding eight projects at universities and private companies focusing on three themes: …

  1. Munehaus

    "UK awards £1.73M to AI projects to advance zero net goals"

    FTFY.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I know exactly where this money is going ...

    into writing loads of puff pieces about how the UKs net zero is world beating.

  3. codejunky Silver badge

    Hmm

    What a waste of money

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      Re: Hmm

      Isn't that the very definition of government?

      1. John Robson Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        No - it's just what we're used to over the last 14 years

      2. gandalfcn Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        Well, the current one definitely.

        1. codejunky Silver badge

          Re: Hmm

          @gandalfcn

          "Well, the current one definitely."

          And before. Remember during the boom labour were borrowing like there was no tomorrow to pay for their 'investments'. Finding a government willing to do different is hard to find and vilified for doing so.

          1. John Robson Silver badge

            Re: Hmm

            Remember how they were improving public services?

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Hmm

      If it were to make/use AIs to create financial derivatives would it be a better bet?

      1. codejunky Silver badge

        Re: Hmm

        @AC

        "If it were to make/use AIs to create financial derivatives would it be a better bet?"

        Government _____ money __ the wall. Fill in the blanks. Dont care if its green nonsense or financial derivatives its the gov spaffing money on stuff they know nothing about.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: Hmm

          Government Homeland Security money built the wall.

    3. Blogitus Maximus

      Re: Hmm

      After sucking all the money out of local authorities in real terms cuts via austerity, the B word and numerous scandalous spending in recent years, as well as a ballooning deficit its very clear the current party of fiscal responsibility is anything but. Hopefully we can keep them out of power for a while as we de-shitify the UK.

      Its gonna take time folks. And AI is not going to save us.

  4. Dr. G. Freeman

    Suppose using an AI instead of a carbon-based lifeform to shuffle bits of paper around electronically is a sort of carbon reduction.

  5. Mike 137 Silver badge

    "AI is the defining technology of our generation and the UK is harnessing its enormous potential"

    says Jonathan Berry, 5th Viscount Camrose, who "attended Durham University, completing a Bachelor of Arts in French and German in 1993, and a Masters of Business Administration at Carnegie Mellon University"1. Clearly an expert in the field of AI.

    1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jonathan_Berry,_5th_Viscount_Camrose

    .

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Peer to Peer Networking

      So is a Viscount Camrose more or less important than a Baroness Mone?

      Does it enable a world beating chummocracy?

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: Peer to Peer Networking

        In the UK, baron is the lowest form of life in the peerage hierarchy. It's the only one currently on offer and it's now non-hereditary. Hereditary baronies are typically (but unofficially) considered 'more respectable' as they were awarded when the distinction had obligations to the crown (such as military service) attached. However the barony is becoming rather irrelevant as their numbers proliferate on the basis of being someone's crony.

      2. Jellied Eel Silver badge

        Re: Peer to Peer Networking

        So is a Viscount Camrose more or less important than a Baroness Mone?

        She dresses many of the peers & aristocracy.

        But on the plus side, it may add some actual intelligence to Net Zero decision making, although it's far more likely to be more GIGO that gets used to 'support data driven decision making'. Pretty much all the data around Net Zero shows collosal amounts of our money being pissed up the wall, but it's not their money, so they don't care.

  6. andy gibson

    I see a lot of negativity about AI.

    AI comes up with battery design that uses 70 per cent less lithium

    https://www.newscientist.com/article/2411374-ai-comes-up-with-battery-design-that-uses-70-per-cent-less-lithium/

    1. blackcat Silver badge

      There are things that ML should be used for as it is good for that task, like simulating millions of combinations of battery constructions, and there are things it shouldn't be used for but make for soundbite headlines like this.

      This is the 2024 version of a public enquiry.

    2. Blogitus Maximus

      I'm not negative about AI, I'm negative about the people that will misuse it.

  7. Rich 2 Silver badge

    FFS

    See title.

    Which fuckwit thought this was a good idea? Even for our govt, this is top cock-womble stuff

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: FFS

      Well, current thinking is that winning at buzzword bingo gets votes, so it's only natural to combine "Net Zero" and "AI" in a sentence.... For this game, it is not required that the sentence is understandable, or that it even makes sense as a concept if you can translate it into English.

      1. Mike 137 Silver badge

        Re: FFS

        "it's only natural to combine "Net Zero" and "AI" in a sentence"

        But you forgot to add 'inclusive'!

    2. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Holmes

      Re: this is top cock-womble stuff

      Even so, it ticks all the boxes in that they are actually doing something rather than sitting on their fat arses and doing nowt.

      It may very well be the wrong thing but there is an election coming so now is the time decisions have to be made.

      Remember, if the other side get in, they can say.... 'The coffers are empty' and cancel it.

      It this bunch of w*****s is returned, they can quietly not renew any of the grants and sweep the problem under the carpet in HM Treasury and hope that no one remembers the mad decision.

  8. Trigun

    Net zero is pie in the sky as far as I can see. Better to keep pushing reasonable green policies and investing in things like properly recyclable plastics, etc.

    1. Mike 137 Silver badge

      "Net zero is pie in the sky as far as I can see"

      If achievable at all (without fiddling) it won't be a static end state but a metastable one requiring continuous active maintenance, and that may prove very expensive and fragile.

      1. samzeman

        Re: "Net zero is pie in the sky as far as I can see"

        > it won't be a static end state but a metastable one requiring continuous active maintenance, and that may prove very expensive and fragile.

        I feel like this applies to a lot of developed society, and shouldn't stop us at least trying to do good.

    2. Binraider Silver badge

      HS2 and Net Zero have a lot in common. Both suffer from poor marketing buzzwords that overlook useful objectives embedded within them.

      HS2 has the people-per-hour capacity roughly equivalent to 3 times the M40, and without the "roads" especially on the London end. The increase in capacity frees up space on the existing rail to move freight off the roads.

      But, noooo, the marketing material is all about "200mph".... and "faster by 5 minutes"; superficial, and totally overlooking the actual advantages. Sacking off the northern segments genuinely misses out on the upside the program could have generated.

      The less said about the terrible project management the better, of course.

      Net zero is much the same. Consider the economic advantages of sourcing our power from nukes, wind and solar. No more being beholden to unfriendly or downright hostile outfits like Opec and/or or various Dictators around the world. This is a whole lot more encompassing than the Greta Thunberg argument (however correct she is), not forking out loads of cash to the middle east is a whole lot more popular a policy.

      Staying on the original topic however, AI in generation, or network capacity? Not going to happen. The problem of system design and the answers one come to are dependent entirely upon the political assumptions selected. How will an AI select those assumptions? It won't, it'll be fed them by whoever the policy makers are on the day.

      Quantum computing (fantasy) in system design world is the only real game changer in town, because it's the only way to explore the myriad of the infinite number of options availalbe. AI is not going to aid in that.

  9. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

    Actually doesn't sound completely unreasonable

    If you read the linked piece a few of the projects are very definitely 'we're mates of someone important, or just very good at writing pitches' given the amounts involved. Some others sound quite reasonable in terms of forecasting, it's all about adding up the smaller wins.

    Having said that as usual the government are trying to do this on the cheap, 2M is naff all. They won't do anything serious.

    They could (hobby horses ahoy.. clip clop)

    Try and mandate mobile phone lifespans or even a (paid - you expect consumers to give their old phones away for free?) recycling scheme to recover precious metals, to prevent so much unnecessary wastage. You don't need a fancy phone every two years.

    Subsidise heat pumps and electricity long term. Why are they pushing heat pumps? Lower emissions than gas fired systems.

    Why are consumers not going for heat pumps? Because they cost more upfront *AND* on an on-going basis and have lower performance than gas. Recent claims about higher base temperatures in heat pumps (mostly) seem to involve the efficiency reducing, so aren't particularly credible from what I can see. Tell me I'm wrong with actual references, please, my boiler does need replacing in the next few years.

    Ahh, but if heat pumps are more expensive to run than gas, this could be offset by low cost solar panels to reduce the energy cost. That'd be a great idea wouldn't it. Hey minister, how about a mass production and subsidised panel offering? Wait, wait, stop running..

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Heat Pumps and solar

      Are all well and good. but on their own, they don't work very well. Solar produces energy at times when the HP is not being used. The HP needs energy when the sun is down.

      What is needed is for every home to have a battery to store the power generated by the solar and... You connect the dots. Gubberment have not got around to even thinking about home battery storage.

      I've had such a system for 2.5 years now and it works very well.

      1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip Silver badge

        Re: Heat Pumps and solar

        On their own they work better than nothing, but yes, battery storage is better. The complexity and implications (such as sticking a load of lithium ion in close proximity) is higher though, so I decided that was really the next step after making the panels a reasonable price.

        What's the payback on your system, though?

        1. Binraider Silver badge

          Re: Heat Pumps and solar

          I can't speak for the other poster's experience; but my solar/battery combo will pay back in about 5 years based on the last two years worth of data accumulated. I am a relatively high demand user; with one or two of us regularly working from home. Your mileage will vary and you need to do the NPV calcs to understand your own circumstances. It would probably not make sense to have to take a loan to install it, though putting it on the mortgage would. Hopefully that gives an idea of rate of return.

          We have 3.6kw of panels and 3.6kWh of batteries, a quantity that any very average 2 bed semi can install. We don't export very much; the excess goes to battery outside of the sunniest days when we become an exporter I'd say maybe 60 days a year the battery will be fully topped off. There's enough "free" power so to speak to contemplate running a small AC unit without putting the load on the bill.

          Swapping the boiler out for a heat pump however is totally out of the question and would make basically zero sense.

          The main problem with "everyone" having a solar/battery combo is that it creates different problems for legacy 50Hz distribution/transmission infrastructure (while helping with some others). Some vision is required to unpick this particular problem, there is more than one solution and not everyone will agree.

  10. gandalfcn Silver badge

    Does that bunch of charlatans care?

    1. Missing Semicolon Silver badge
      Unhappy

      No more or less than the other bunch of charlatans. Both consider stuff important that really isn't. Just (some) different things.

      It is really depressing.

  11. Locomotion69

    May I suggest some approaches to the AI database ?

    Dear AI,

    Please consider:

    - Reduce the amount of energy required by identifying power consuming activites such as yourself;

    - Kill all social media - you may win a prize for doing so;

    - Kill humanity, but you may have considered, or are considering, this already.

    You're most welcome.

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