Artificial Intelligence

Opinion: Cleantech’s energy boost: Artificial Intelligence


Photo credit: Randy Montoya via Flickr.

By Cameron Brown

When Facebook, Amazon, IBM, Microsoft and Google team up and form a partnership for the development of a rapidly advancing technology, it’s time to start paying attention.

You’ve heard of it, surely. You may know it as Apple’s Siri or IBM’s Watson. You may know it as Tesla’s autopilot. Maybe your mind goes straight to Westworld or Ex Machina.

Whatever your level of understanding of Artificial Intelligence (AI), it’s hard to overstate the impact of a technology that makes all other tech smarter.

AI for clean technology is like carbs for a marathon runner. The marathon runner needs to take in enough carbs to make it across the finish line. Like a marathon runner at mile ten, clean-tech has a long way to go to reach the finish line of a sustainable world, and it needs just the right amount of momentum, energy, and focus.

Here are four cleantech companies carving up with AI.

Thinking about solar? Get competing quotes from local solar installers today at!

And they’re running like the wind


Photo credit: ZenRobotics.

ZenRobotics of Finland pairs AI with industrial robots and powerful sensors to identify and extract recyclables within large quantities of waste. The ZenRobotics Recycler (ZRR) can sort metals, wood, minerals, plastics and cardboard, and like a human, it can be trained to identify other types of recyclables as well. Its smart software works with sensors in real time for optimal accuracy and efficiency.


Growing your own is one of the best ways to eat healthily and live more eco-friendly. Meet “Eddy” by Flux Farms. Eddy uses a combination of sensors and AI that allows hydroponic growers to control and manage pH and water levels of their crops remotely! It’s perfectly suited for both personal operations and small businesses.

For more on the future of food, check out my recent post on vertical farming.


Photo credit: NEXTracker.

NEXTracker, who makes devices that shift solar panels to soak in as much direct sunlight as possible, acquired a startup called BrightBox Technologies out of Berkeley (shocker) to add some intelligence to its hardware. NEXTracker will use software developed by BrightBox, originally made to monitor and control temperatures in large buildings, to increase energy production of solar farms, thereby enabling faster operations and easier maintenance. Can you say streamlining processes? AI is great for that.


Photo credit: Opower.

Opower sells software as a service to utility companies that use AI to collect and analyse data on consumer energy usage. It packages the results beautifully and presents them to consumers at just the right times in an effort to motivate people to save energy and money. Opower recently hit 11 Terawatt-hours of savings — enough to power a million homes for a year in the US.

The sustainability marathon ain’t easy

Thanks to AI, cleantech’s out there gettin’ it like Forest Gump. And we’re cheering like Run, Forest, run!

You know the beautiful thing about AI?

It’s going to keep getting better. As it gets better, more cleantech companies will incorporate it into their systems. As they do, their systems will operate more effectively. As more cleantech companies operate more effectively, we’re propelled even faster toward the sustainable future we yearn for.

And again, the AI will learn and the cycle will repeat.

First published on Cleantech Rising.

Cameron Brown is the co-creator of Cleantech Rising.

3 replies »

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s