By Rosana de Oliveira Gomes
Two Omdena teams with a total of 50 AI experts and data scientists from 25 countries collaborated with the World Energy Council and the Nigerian NGO RA365 in carrying out data-driven analyses and providing AI solutions to address the Global Transition to Clean Energy.
At a recent Omdena Demo Day, team members Amardeep Singh, Julia Wabant, and Simon Mackenzie shared the results and insights gained from these two projects.
The Topic: Energy Transition
One of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted by all United Nations Member States in 2015 aims to ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern clean energy for all by 2030.
Transitioning into a society with cleaner energy is crucial for fighting climate change. Different parts of the world are currently facing different stages of the energy transition. This can be noted both on the implementation of solutions in specific regions as well as in the cultural perception of such transition by societies. Both topics are addressed in the following two Omdena use cases.
1. Use Case: AI for Renewable Energy in Nigeria
Nigeria is one of the countries in the world facing the most severe energy challenges. Over half of the country’s population — 100 million people — lack access to electricity. Some of the problems faced by Nigerians include precarious electricity systems, unstable electricity supply, and electricity available only in certain locations.
An alternative to these problems is investing in local and renewable power solutions. Renewable Africa RA365 is an NGO with the mission to end energy poverty in Nigeria by leveraging innovative clean energy solutions and focusing on providing solar energy to vulnerable populations. In this project, the Omdena team partnered up with RA365 with the goal of identifying communities where solar panels would add the most value.
The first task in this challenge was to define what these areas should be: groups of about 4000 people living within a radius of about 500 m, and that are located more than 15 km away from a power grid. Regions close to schools, healthcare centers, and water locations were considered to have a higher ranking of priority, as they can benefit even more from renewable energy implementation.
One of the biggest challenges in the project was the lack of data for population density, making it hard to identify where people need assistance. In order to find out how the population is distributed in Nigeria and determine who is without access to electricity, the team compared nighttime satellite imagery from NASA Black Marble VIIRS against the geographic location of the population using the Demographic and Health Surveys (DHS) program, ground surveys from WorldPop, and the GRID3 dataset. Also, for identifying the national grid location and, therefore, find regions where people live in relation to existing power lines, the team applied Machine Learning techniques on satellite images from the HV grid from Development Seed/World Bank.
Finally, the team finally worked on finding, among all these towns without electricity supply, which ones would be suitable for the criteria established for the implementation of a local solar energy system. This was done by clustering 4000 people in a 500 m radius using the DbScan clustering technique, leading to the identification of over a thousand high-potential regions.
Clusters of towns with populations between 4–15 thousand people which are suitable for potential off-grid solar navigation in the North of Nigeria.
The Omdena’s team deliverable for this project: A prototype interactive map of the whole of Nigeria identifying the regions with a high demand for electricity and a high potential for solar.
The next steps for this project include a detailed survey for the top target areas in order to identify which locations are most suitable both in terms of infrastructure and cost for implementation of solar systems.
The initiative taken by Omdena and Renewable Africa RA365 has the potential of enabling data-driven investments and policy-making that can change the lives of many people in Nigeria and other African countries.
The data and prototype of this project have been shared with the Lagos State Government agency for solar systems, which is now willing to start the process of mass production already in 2020.
“In order to get this job done, it is not all about providing solutions to these people. We want to make sure that the solutions get to the right people at the right places, and Omdena has really helped us to achieve that.”
Joseph Itopa, Machine Learning Engineer at Renewable Africa RA365
2. Use Case: Sentiment Analysis on Energy Transition
The transition away from dependency on CO2 to a more sustainable society dominates the news headlines worldwide, exposing conflicting opinions and political measures driving towards a future with cleaner energy sources. Understanding the clean energy transition at a human-level is crucial to the effectiveness of whatever steps are taken in the direction of a carbon-free society.
Commissioned by the World Energy Council, the world’s leading member-based global energy network, Omdena explored applications of AI in understanding how people in different regions of the world perceive the energy transition and their role in it.
Using natural language processing (NLP) techniques, the team created tools to collect, scrape, and analyze text about the clean energy transition found on different social media sources (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Reddit, and famous newspapers). This text data was analyzed using varying methods, such as sentiment analysis, topic modeling, and clustering to reveal the challenges, reactions, and attitudes of citizens around the world.
Visualizations of the results allow for comparisons of sentiments across nations and societies. The analysis was first focused on English speaking countries, as this provides a common basis for comparing text. For this, the countries representative of different continents and development backgrounds were: USA (America), UK (Europe), Nigeria (Africa), and India (Asia).
The word cloud representation of the results shows that among the 4 countries investigated, only Nigeria has prominent tweets about “electricity supply”. Similarly, “gas prices” are specific to the USA. However, “renewable energy” is present in all 4 countries.
A part of the analysis was also expanded to other countries and languages, gathering and analyzing tweets related to complaints about “renewable energy cost” in more than 20 countries. The results revealed how local conditions and culture can differ significantly from different places. For example, “technology” was the most relevant concern in the complaint tweets in Brazil and France, whereas in Nigeria these tweets were focused solely on “policy”.
Though broad conclusions cannot be drawn from these isolated collections of data, the results point to models and data sets that are promising for further development. The analysis carried out by the Omdena team allowed for a better understanding of how natural language processing techniques can be used to capture the opinions and concerns of people worldwide about the clean energy transition.
“The Council has been interested in how public sentiment on energy issues might be tracked, or if this were even possible. That is where this project came in — the team at Omdena explored the broad brief and have proven that the conceptual idea is possible.”
Martin Young, Senior Director at the World Energy Council
The demo day recording
Collaborators from this project
We thank our partner organizations, Renewable Africa 365 and the World Energy Council. as well as all Omdena collaborators (listed below) who made the project a success.
Omdenda team members, on the Renewable Energy Nigeria project:
- Anastasis Stamatis, Greece
- Daniil Khodosko, Canada
- Peace Bakare, Nigeria
- John Wu, Australia
- Siddharth Srivastava, India
- Simon Mackenzie, UK
- Hoa Nguyen, Vietnam
- Takashi Daido, Japan
- Jessica Alecci, Netherlands/Italy
- Jack David, UK
- Shubham Bindal, India
- Deborah David, France
- Qi Han, Singapore
- Stefan Hrouda-Rasmussen, Denmark
- Varun G P, India
- Ifeoma Okoh (Ify), Nigeria
- Suraiya Khan, Canada
- Ivan Tzompov, Bulgaria
- Henrique Mendonca, Switzerland
- Himadri Mishra, India
- Sai Praveen, India
- Jaikanth J, India
- Krithiga Ramadass, India
Omdena team members, on the Energy Transition Social Sentiment project:
- Syed Hassan, UAE
- Julia Jakubczak, Poland
- Marek Cichy, Poland
- Krithiga Ramadass, India
- Abhishek Deshpande, India
- Julia Wabant, France
- Simon Mackenzie, UK
- Alejandro Bautista Ramos, Mexico
- Irune Lansorena Sanchez, Spain
- Vishal Ramesh, India
- Elizabeth Tishenko, Poland
- Shashank Agrawal, India
- Ilias Papadopoulos, Greece
- Aqueel Jivan, USA
- Nicholas Musau, Kenya
- Matteo Bustreo, Italy
- Mahzad Khoshlessan, USA
- Yamuna Dulanjani, Sri Lanka
- Fiona, USA
- Murindanyi Sudi, Rwanda
- Raghhuveer Jaikanth, India
- Abhishek Gupta, USA
- Aboli Marathe, India
- Momodou B Jallow, China
- Jordi Frank, USA
- Amardeep Singh, Canada
- Julie Maina, Kenya