AI aids the megatrend of electrification of everything which can reduce GHGs

AI aids the megatrend of electrification of everything which can reduce GHGs
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Technology is helping enterprises meet their sustainability goals

In March, in Antarctica, an ice shelf the size of New York City collapsed due to record high temperatures. It is just one of the symptoms of the climate crisis that affects all of us. Already, millions of people have had their homes or businesses damaged and some are losing their lives in fires, floods, droughts, and storms. Climate crisis is here, and we need to act with urgency because the future of climate change is in our hands.

The global pandemic has been a wake-up call for enterprises to consider environmental sustainability as a business imperative.

Business Insider India caught up with Dr. Tanya Morton, the worldwide director of customer success engineering for MathWorks, to understand how organizations are leveraging emerging technologies like artificial intelligence to achieve their environmental sustainability goals.
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Tanya has worked at the forefront of innovation, engineering, and science for over 26 years. She is passionate about sustainability and leads an initiative to support MathWorks customers in understanding and tackling climate change.

Edited excerpts:

The ongoing global climate crisis is a serious cause for concern for individuals and businesses alike. Quite reasonably, sustainability is a core priority for enterprises in post-pandemic recovery. What do you think is the impact of this crisis on companies’ sustainability goals today?


The impact is significant. It is great to see how many companies are starting to take action to address the climate crisis. Stakeholder capitalism imagines corporations as being responsible not only to their shareholders but to their employees, suppliers, communities, and the environment. For example, over 5,000 businesses have signed up for the Race to Zero global campaign and have committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2050. It is part of a growing movement to re-examine how companies operate—and for whom.

To ensure a sustainable future, all companies need to increase their actions to address climate change. That is why MathWorks is committed to becoming carbon neutral by 2023.

Tell us about how AI is helping organizations accelerate global sustainability efforts?

AI and Cloud technologies accelerate climate research and help us fully understand the scale and extent of the climate crisis.

An example I recently covered in my talk at MathWorks’ flagship event, MATLAB EXPO, was about drought. Drought is devastating to crop harvests and can make local communities vulnerable, both from a health perspective and economically. Researchers studied a river basin in Ethiopia and used AI to better predict when drought may occur. This allows communities to be better supported through difficult times.

AI also plays a key role in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. For example, AI applied in food systems can help better monitor crop yields, reduce the need for chemicals and excess water through precision agriculture, and minimize food waste through forecasting demand and identifying spoiled produce.

AI also supports the megatrend called the electrification of everything that is critical to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The electrification of everything refers to the twin pair of generating electricity from renewable sources, then using electricity as the primary energy source.

AI supports renewable energy generation, for example, via the design of more efficient and reliable offshore wind farms. It supports the efficient usage of electricity too, for example, machine learning is being used to match energy generation and demand in real-time, realizing more fully the potential of smart grids.

MathWorks’ MATLAB and Simulink are used by millions of engineers and scientists to analyze data, develop algorithms, and create models. How do these products help companies meet their sustainability goals?

Researchers and developers worldwide are analyzing trends and designing solutions in response to climate change with MATLAB and Simulink. You can view their work, including clean energy products, scientific papers, and financial models on MathWorks climate research and development webpage.

With MathWorks tools you can computationally model energy generators and storage devices such as wind turbines, batteries, and solar panels. It can be dangerous and expensive to do research and testing with the real system - you don't want battery fires or snapping turbine blades. Modelling and simulation can help plug this gap.

Can you give us some examples of that?

An example of MathWorks helping bring green technologies to market is through our work with Ather, an electric two-wheeler company from Bangalore. When the company began, they did not have the time, money, or people to build prototypes for each vehicle. This problem was solved by using MATLAB and Simulink to scale up the speed of testing.

Ather scooters come equipped with a touchscreen GPS, remote diagnostics based on data patterns of other users, and an intelligent battery that can autonomously change modes to ensure the highest efficiency. With MATLAB, Simulink, and Model-Based Design, the company identified and validated the best ideas through simulation, making it possible to deliver a more full-featured scooter in less time.

Another startup, Boston Metal, introduced groundbreaking technology aimed at producing steel in a more sustainable and cheaper way. The patented technology, Molten Oxide Electrolysis (MOE), replaces traditional processes through the use of direct electric current to separate chemical compounds. Boston Metal’s method produces liquid iron with a byproduct of oxygen instead of carbon, a cleaner and simpler process.

You spoke about electrification earlier. Could you give us insights into MathWorks’ electrification efforts for climate change issues across sectors such as automotive, energy, healthcare, etc.?

There is a growing demand for engineers to meet the worldwide demand for electric vehicles (EVs). To address this, MathWorks along with Bosch and NIT Calicut jointly created and delivered a new final-year undergraduate course, Electric Vehicle System Engineering. This is a good example of collaboration between academia and industry to address the talent shortage.

We work with various industry associations to deliver professional development programmes for working professionals to help build skills around electrification.

Many incubators and accelerators across the world have been partnering with us through the MathWorks Accelerator Program. We have signed memorandums of understanding (MoUs) with governmental organizations like Atal Innovation Mission (AIM), Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) and Software Technology Parks of India (STPI) to extend this to hundreds of accelerators across the country. We are seeing several start-ups, including those in areas like two-wheeler electric vehicles, healthcare, and sustainable engineering, accelerating their product development through the benefits offered through this programme.

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