Can Big Data save our planet?

As an addition to our segment Great Data, we are here to discuss the role that Big Data is playing within the growth of the renewable energy market. More specifically, how is Big Data being used to lower the cost of renewable energy? And how are startups contributing to a more efficient market? If these questions tickle your fancy, we suggest you read on.

Big Data is helping renewable energy compete with fossil fuels

PowerScout, a new startup from California, uses Big Data and machine learning to predict which current and potential customer is most likely to purchase their solar panels. This allows them to optimize their strategies and, ultimately, save resources through focusing on their most valuable deals. This means that the cost of buying panels will decrease as a result of the cheaper sales process. This, in turn, contributes to shrinking the overall costs of renewable energy and can allow for the market to compete with (and hopefully win over) fossil fuels.

In a similar vein, another startup (sensing a pattern yet?) named Origami Energy is attempting to forecast market demand, with the goal of adjusting supply accordingly. This, again, would lead to a more flexible and efficient renewable energy market. To find out more about this project, check out WIRED’s article.

IBM is en route to predicting solar and wind patterns

We are also seeing further optimization within solar and wind energy with IBM’s Watson (Watt-sun). By leveraging AI, and aggregating different forecasting models, they are able to predict conditions 50% more accurately than their competitors. The goal here is to allow for an even more efficient renewable market. Head to Fortune for more information.

Developing markets are also seeing data-driven initiatives

But not all of the combinations of Big Data and renewable energy are happening on such a large scale. In fact, Azuri, a provider of cell phone managed, low-cost solar energy in sub-Saharan Africa, is using machine learning to optimize their users’ experience. More specifically, when their customer’s battery is running low, the rate of cell phone charging is decreased to save as much energy as possible.

Yet again, Big Data is proving to be the golden tool

These are just some of the projects from around the world that are utilizing data analytics to propel the use of renewable energy. And, so far, we have highlighted the role that this plays in increasing the efficiency of the market and lowering the overall costs. But, what we haven’t highlighted quite as much, is the obvious social benefit that we see as this market flourishes. More people will have access to clean energy and the damage to the planet will be substantially lowered. Ultimately, Big Data has once again proven to be a golden tool within social development.

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