Solar Electricity Forecasting Startup Awarded £500,000 by Google

April 22, 2021
https://www.cnbc.com/2021/04/14/google-backs-former-deepmind-employees-solar-forecasting-start-up.html
Open Climate Fix is a nonprofit lab which aims to develop solar electricity forecasting service for the U.K. and Europe. The nonprofit startup, headquartered in London, was recently awarded $686,350 (£500,000) by Google’s philanthropic arm, Google.org.

Open Climate Fix relies on machine learning and satellite images for short-term solar electricity forecasting. The service will aim to predict cloud cover which will aid in forecasting the electricity produced from the solar panels. The company plans to use an open-source approach to allow researchers and engineers an opportunity to contribute to their work and develop scalable solutions to battle climate change.

According to the co-founder Jack Kelly, former AI researcher at DeepMind, the uncertainty behind large cloud covers forces electricity grid operators to run fossil fuel generators at sub-optimal capacity. The fossil fuel generators are grossly inefficient when used at sub-optimal capacity. With Open Climate Fix’s forecasting service, better cloud cover predictions will allow electricity grid operators to run a smaller number of generators at an optimal capacity resulting in more fuel efficiency and cost-efficiency.

Kelly plans to use the money to expand their team. The company is also in talks with NationalGrid, which owns and operates the infrastructure that provides electricity to homes and businesses around the U.K.

The award was part of the Impact Challenge on Climate in which Google.org committed towards a total of €10M to game-changing green technologies. Organizations were selected by Google.org, Climate-KIC, and an expert panel based on their proposals. The 11 selected organizations, across Europe, received funding between €500,000 and €2,000,000. The selected organizations also received an invitation to participate in a Google for Startups Accelerator.

- Parth Agrawal ’22