Why it matters: Google and DeepMind have teamed up on using machine learning to predict the output of renewable energy sources such as wind farms. The algorithm training uses weather forecasts and data from wind turbines to predict electric output 36 hours in advance, raising the efficiency of power grids and decreasing the often unreliable nature of wind power.
Wind power has become a popular and important source of carbon-free renewable energy in recent years, with many tech companies jumping on the bandwagon. However, the unpredictability of wind makes for an inefficient and sometimes unreliable power source.
To counter this problem, Google has teamed up with DeepMind to apply machine learning algorithms to 700 megawatts of wind power in the central US. These wind farms combined generate enough electricity to power a medium-sized city.
The machine learning employed by Google utilizes a neural network trained by weather forecasts and data from the turbines. The algorithm then attempts to predict wind power output 36 hours before actual generation. These predictions will help the wind farms make accurate hourly delivery commitments to the power grid more than a day in advance.
This advanced notice allows for both the wind farm and power grid to operate more efficiently, supplying the exact amount of power needed on both sides to sustain the operation.
According to Google, early tests of this machine learning has boosted the value of wind energy by 20 percent. As the data gets more refined, Google and DeepMind estimate that they can predict the hourly output of the wind farms to within a 10% margin of error. This accuracy will help wind farm operators make smarter and more data-driven assessments of how they can meet electricity demand.
This AI collaboration is only one of many renewable energy projects Google is working on. Google currently supports 20 renewable energy partnerships across the US and Europe, and as of 2017 Google has purchased enough renewable energy to match 100% of its operational needs. While Google isn't the only company committed to using fully-renewable energy, they are among the first to cross the finish line.