COMPUTER scientists in Aberdeen are using AI to supercharge Scottish renewable technology, which could power thousands more homes and help the country reach its net zero ambitions.

The University of Aberdeen and software company Intelligent Plant, which is based in the city, have partnered up to overcome the challenges of producing green hydrogen.

Green hydrogen refers to gas which is produced when water is split into its two component parts – oxygen and hydrogen – using electricity from renewable sources.

The National:

Sponsored through the Scottish Government’s Emerging Energy Technologies Fund, the AI system aiming to boost production will soon be tested by operators in Orkney.

As green hydrogen is powered by renewable energy sources, it is reliant on a range of external factors such as wind speed and tidal strength, and its optimisation depends on the experience of specialists in the field.

By developing a Decision Support System (DSS), the new project aims to increase the efficiency of the green hydrogen process, as well as heighten trust amongst users.

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Through use of explainable artificial intelligence (XAI), the project could support the decision-making of hydrogen logistics, in addition to improving forecasts for storage, consumption, energy availability, and cost.

Obtained through electrolysis of water, green hydrogen generates energy without emitting carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, rendering it as a clean and sustainable fuel alternative.

In addition to addressing these logistical challenges, the project intends to support the Scottish Government’s net zero targets in regards to its goal of reaching 5GW by 2030.

Equivalent to a sixth of the country’s energy needs, reaching 5GW could cement Scotland’s position as a world leader in renewable energy production.

Earlier this month, First Minister Humza Yousaf announced the Hydrogen Innovation Scheme funding, which commits to supporting 32 projects by investing £100 million in the green hydrogen sector.

Professor Nir Oren, who directs Aberdeen University’s School of Natural and Computing Sciences, commented: “An AI-based decision support system aims to take multiple factors into account to optimise hydrogen production, but the system is only as good as the data it receives – so it is critical that decisions made by the system are explainable, that it can justify its decisions, and that the factors leading to the decisions can be understood and modified.”

Paul Gowans, from Intelligent Plant, expanded on the wider implications of the new project. He remarked: “In the longer term we could look to extend this technology to benefit other renewable sources such as wind and solar, further increasing the impact of the project which has the potential to go some way to reaching Scotland’s renewable energy targets.”