Microsoft Announces Two New Partnerships that Leverage Cloud Capabilities for Smarter Energy Policy and Deployment

The Paris climate accord is on pace to enter into force well ahead of schedule. Now, the world’s attention is shifting to the immense task of formulating strategies and solutions that will allow countries to reduce their carbon emissions.

Addressing climate change will require action not only from these national governments, but also from private sector companies, non-profit organizations and individuals around the world. It is clear that both technology and policy will play important roles in accelerating innovation in and deployment of clean energy technologies, achieving more sustainable economic growth, and driving a transformation toward the smarter use of resources. For Microsoft, the opportunity to help innovate at the intersection of policy and technology is one that we are excited to explore.

And so, today, on the heels of the historic adoption of the Paris Agreement, we are excited to announce two new projects, built on our technologies, that will leverage machine learning to help address environmental challenges and opportunities both in the way energy policy is made in the U.S. and in advancing smart-grid technologies that will help accelerate the integration of renewables onto the grid.

Smarter Policies

Legislative and regulatory proposals will be necessary to drive the changes needed to allow the U.S. to meet its commitments under the Paris Agreement. But currently, designing and identifying policies that are well-structured and have a chance at passage is a difficult and time-intensive manual task. This is why, in partnership with the Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) we unveiled a predictive policy tool, which makes it possible to search across hundreds of thousands of policies and tens of millions of data points to identify public policies aimed at advanced energy. By leveraging machine learning and our Cortana Analytics capabilities, Microsoft and AEE have created a tool that predicts the likelihood that any energy-related legislation in any state in the U.S. will pass. By leveraging the data in and around each of these pieces of legislation, the tool has been able to predict, with over 80 percent accuracy, the probability of passage for any, and every, legislative bill introduced in 2016.

Screenshot of the enhanced PowerSuite legislative tracking tool from Advanced Energy Economy in partnership with Microsoft.

Smarter Grids

Smart grids have immense potential to change the way energy is managed. With better data, it is possible to improve efficiency and enable the integration of more renewables onto the grid. By digitizing the grid and driving greater efficiency across our energy infrastructure, it is possible to replace the need for more physical infrastructure. This has been a theoretical value proposition as renewables have increased over the past few years. We are now working to prove out this value proposition in a pilot project announced today in Norway with Agder Energi and Powel. [WATCH THE VIDEO]

The pilot will be operated at an Agder Energi substation that is currently struggling to operate at over 120 percent of its capacity during peak demand times. The project, powered by the Microsoft Azure cloud, PowerBI and Azure IoT Hub, will enable operators to better predict demand and engage distributed resources, like rooftop solar panels, electric vehicles and smart homes, when they are needed. By better leveraging these resources and better managing demand this type of smart-grid solution can improve grid reliability and efficiency, while reducing greenhouse gases.

Smarter Together

Changing our energy infrastructure requires new partnerships and new approaches. Microsoft believes that we have a direct opportunity and accountability to help our customers be better stewards of the planet’s resources. By investing in partnerships and projects like those we are announcing today, we hope that we are able to enable our customers to deliver innovative solutions that will help address the environmental challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.  We look forward to reporting the results of these projects in the near future.

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