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Innovating for impact: Generative AI promises increased acceleration of the energy transition

Clean Energy Accelerator Generative AI Edition

Amazon Web Services (AWS) has announced the launch and call for applications for the Clean Energy Accelerator | Generative AI Edition

In the face of mounting evidence that the world is significantly behind on its climate goals, the call for rapid, innovative solutions in clean energy has never been louder. The Global Stocktake at COP28 has made it clear that the world is still far behind the pace of decarbonization required to keep the 1.5 degrees Celsius target on track.

Generative artificial intelligence (AI) holds immense potential for creating a step change in clean energy advancement by revolutionizing various aspects of research, development and deployment. While its applications are still emerging, it can double down on impact though cost, innovation and discovery. For example, it can explore vast design spaces previously untapped by humans in areas such as novel materials, extending energy storage duration, new energy conversion processes, behavioral analysis and even policy support.

Generative AI-driven simulations can uncover previously unknown relationships or phenomena. The solution-modeling pathways are seemingly endless — take new molecular combinations through computational chemistry, or simulations of property parameters in response to prompts from a manufacturing process for storage solutions, carbon capture materials, electrolyzers or resilient solar and wind asset components. It can even extend to behavioral analysis such as energy consumption patterns and limitless predictions based on combinations of macro-economic, geopolitical, climate or disaster scenarios.

Entrepreneurs are Emerging as Catalysts for Generative AI

What we’re seeing is that some of the first movers in generative AI such as Anthropic, a steerable AI systems company based in San Francisco, are entrepreneurs — startups, scaleups and small-to-medium businesses. Bigger enterprises have the resources and breadth to test and grow adoption of those technologies, with real-time applications at an unmatched scale. Entities that hold convening power to bridge the two must play an outsized role at this juncture. The Clean Energy Accelerator (CEA), since its inception in 2021 has been focused on just that.

Be a Part of the Next Wave of Clean Energy Innovators!

We’re excited to launch the Clean Energy Accelerator to catalyze the deployment of emerging technology at the intersection of clean energy and AI to increase the speed at which we can collectively address global energy and climate challenges. Enterprises commit to working with entrepreneurs, with the support of Amazon experts, VCs, government and industry organizations in intensive, high-pace proof-of-concept (POC) design and mentorship immersions that promote partnerships and business acceleration — while AWS supports them to automate and experiment in the cloud and hone their generative AI skills. Centered on the needs of decarbonizing large enterprises as well as startups, the program is designed at its core to spur co-innovation and acceleration.

We’re inviting the next wave of entrepreneurs — startups developing solutions in generative AI for Energy and Climate, and other solutions in grid security and modernization, energy storage, alternative fuels, water technologies and clean energy relevant areas — to apply by April 22, 2024.

Multinational energy companies like Enel, EDP, Siemens Energy and others have worked with previous cohorts, and a broader set of organizations and supporting partners will follow suit in this edition to accelerate pilot projects. The chosen finalists will receive technical and business support from AWS, and up to $100,000 each in AWS Credit through AWS Activate to kick-start their data and operations transformation in the cloud. The finalists will also receive visibility and overall guidance from supporting partners such as The Climate Pledge Fund.

The selected startups will also gain access to executive exposure in key in-person immersion events around the world. Last year’s Clean Energy Accelerator cohort had the opportunity to participate in COP28, to contribute at the core of the clean energy and climate dialogue and showcase their progress and partnerships on the world stage.

Help Amazon reach its Net-Zero by 2040 Goal

Additionally, the Clean Energy Accelerator is excited to partner with Amazon’s Operations Sustainability in 2024 to bring its acceleration network and infrastructure to help Amazon assess emerging decarbonization technologies and applications. If you’re an entrepreneur looking to support the world’s leading innovator in driving sustainability in operations from data centers to mobility, storage and more, this would be an opportunity to move the needle at scale.

Supporting Global Impact, at Scale

Over the course of previous cohorts, the Clean Energy Accelerator has engaged with over 1,200 startups and scaleups from 65 countries, helped accelerate over 70 organizations through deeper dive programs and influenced more than 30 pilot and partnership kickoffs to date, with over 60 POC proposals in 2023 alone. It has influenced either directly or indirectly over $420 million in seed funding.

This bet on human ingenuity is already paying off. Entrepreneurs from previous cohorts are already making a positive impact on the world through energy technology solutions

AI and Computational Chemistry, Eliminating Forever Chemicals, Advancing Renewable Energy

Good Chemistry, for example, is a Canadian startup using quantum computing, AI and machine learning for simulation and materials science. They leverage cloud-based high-performance computing to predict chemical properties at unprecedented scale and speed. Good Chemistry engaged in a PFAS-removal project in partnership with AWS, Accenture and Intel, and in a matter of hours they made discoveries that would have taken 37 years with traditional computing. Today, they partner with companies like Dow Chemical, Mercedes-Benz and Biogen to explore more environmentally safe materials. Good Chemistry, was recently acquired by SandboxAQ, a SaaS company focused on AI and quantum computing solutions, in January of this year. With the acquisition, Good Chemistry is positioned as a catalyst for transformation across industries from energy to drug discovery.

SwitchDin, an Australian company with a cloud platform that securely communicates with and controls virtually any solar system, battery or load and delivers performance intelligence, insight and remote management capabilities, helped develop the first virtual power plant (VPP) for the Northern Territory in Australia as a part of the Alice Springs Future Grid project.

Leap facilitates fast, easy and automated access to high-value grid services revenue streams for the providers of batteries, electric vehicle charging, smart thermostats, HVAC systems and other flexible assets through its software platform. Last December, Leap surpassed 175,000 customers and more than 1GW of customer load on its VPP platform!

Last October, grid asset optimization startup Arenko and UK-based battery storage operator Varco Energy established a partnership for two battery energy storage solution implementations to optimize Varco’s first two projects using Arenko’s market leading algorithmic software platform and route-to-market team.

Emerging responsible AI innovation from entrepreneurs is enabling increased gains in energy security, affordability and supply — and that’s just the start.

Bridging the Innovation Gap — A Brighter Future for Clean Energy

A lot of clean energy and climate technology solutions are within our reach but lack the necessary structures to scale up. The IEA says that 35% of the emissions reductions needed by 2050 will come from technologies not yet at commercial scale. Generative AI is stepping into a crucial role — it can help reduce greenhouse gas emissions and accelerate the transition to a zero-carbon economy. The transformative potential of generative AI for humans, coupled with a concerted effort that convenes the strongest emerging solutions with willing partners persisting to tackle adoption blockers, not only addresses the biggest energy challenges of our generation, but can also be  a prosperity driver for generations to come. The future looks promising!

Applications for the Clean Energy Accelerator are open through April 22, 2024.

Howard Gefen

Howard Gefen

Howard Gefen is General Manager of the Amazon Web Services' (AWS) Energy Industry Business Unit (IBU). The AWS Energy IBU is at the forefront of partnering with Energy, Power, Utility and infrastructure companies around the globe to transform their operations; creating groundbreaking solutions and partnerships and towards their digital transition to the cloud. This includes helping energy companies transform legacy operations, resulting in companies becoming less carbon intensive and in accelerating the development of innovative renewable energy businesses and business models.

Hassane Kassouf

Hassane Kassouf

Hassane Kassouf brings 18+ years of experience in the Energy and Environment sectors and is Head of WW Innovation programs in Energy & Utilities at Amazon Web Services. Prior to Amazon his experience spanned roles in technology commercialization, strategy and business development in the United States, Middle-East, Latin-America and China. Hassane’s purview includes Clean Energy/Climate Tech Accelerators for Startups, enabling faster adoption of low carbon technology by customers, Energy Executive Education and incubating strategic initiatives. He is an advocate of sustainable and equitable energy access and believes in inclusive human-focused development. Harvard Business School Alumnus.