Microsoft and energy company SSE have signed a Memorandum of Understanding to help drive innovation in sustainability in the global energy sector.
The companies, both principal partners for the United Nations’ COP26 conference, have agreed to trial and test technologies that can help in the drive for net-zero carbon emissions. Artificial intelligence (AI) and digital twins will be used to help improve the lifecycle of SSE’s assets, while predictive models will ensure people, tools and supplies are available in the right place at the right time. Technology will also be used to assist with the safety of engineering and field workers.
“The partnership between Microsoft and SSE will create the foundations for a more sustainable energy sector,” said Clare Barclay, CEO of Microsoft UK. “By combining our expertise, skills and technology, and aligning our shared vision of a greener planet, Microsoft and SSE will develop innovative solutions and best practices that will transform business operations and help build a culture of sustainability investment and innovation across the UK.”
Microsoft and SSE’s work will be linked to three timeframes. The first aims to quickly achieve sustainability improvements of SSE’s assets by improving prototyping, development environments, and understanding technology trends that could reduce the overall carbon footprint of the business. The second will see collaborative environments set up to help both companies identify opportunities to innovate, while the final timeframe will see Microsoft and SSE promote the benefits of collaborating to transform the energy market in areas such as renewable energy supply and storage, decarbonisation and data centre energy.
The new partnership builds on a sustainability and wildlife project that both companies are working on which has seen SSE using the Microsoft Azure cloud to understand how a colony of puffins may be impacted by nearby wind farms. A live trial has been completed on the Isle of May in the UK, which saw puffins being counted using AI technology.
“Digitalisation and data will help drive net zero and this partnership will combine the latest technology and skills, with our cutting-edge projects, to trial new solutions which support our vision of being a leading energy company in a net-zero world,” said Alistair Phillips-Davies, chief executive of SSE. “Sustainability is at the heart of what we do and this collaboration will continue our work to reduce our impact and tackle climate change.”