Amazon Harnesses AI at Baldy Mesa Solar Farm Amid Safety Concerns

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Photo credit: Amazon

BALDY MESA –  Amazon announced, May 21, that its solar and storage farm in Baldy Mesa – near Adelanto, uses AI to help predict when and how the project’s battery unit should charge and discharge energy back to the grid.

Amazon says this AI innovation is becoming more important as climate change makes heat waves hotter and more frequent, stretching power grids to their limits.

“As the temperature goes up, homes and businesses often turn up their air units to stay cool, placing pressure on grid operators to meet high demand, and the heat simultaneously can lead to reduced output of traditional thermal power plants, risking outages,” said the news release.

August 16, 2023 heatwave 

According to Fluence, Amazon’s AI bid software, the company helped the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) meet load and frequency control during an August 16, 2023 heatwave.

This means they made sure there was enough electricity for everyone who needed it and kept the electricity running smoothly without any problems in the area.

AI bidding software for energy, like Fluence, allows companies to figure out the best times to buy and sell electricity. It makes predictions about future electricity prices and helps them make decisions to make the most money while managing risks.

Fluence says it helped its customers earn over $3,700 per megawatt on August 16 by anticipating the volatility and adjusting bid schedules appropriately.

Risks to critical energy infrastructure

The Department of Energy (DOE) reported in April that while various forms of AI are already in use across the energy sector, a number of significant risks exist if AI is used or deployed naïvely.

“As their use expands, so does the potential that malicious actors might seek to either target energy sector AI systems directly, or use AI to enhance attempts to attack our critical energy infrastructure,” said the report.

DOE identified four categories of potential risk:

  • unintentional failure modes of AI;
  • adversarial attacks against AI; 
  • hostile applications of AI; 
  • and compromise of the AI software supply chain.

The report determined that most risks can be mitigated through best practices, putting appropriate protections around important data and models, and in some cases, funding further research on mitigation techniques. 

100% renewable energy sources by 2025

At Baldy Mesa, the AI software is expected to analyze up to 33 billion data points each year. In addition, Amazon says they use AI to optimize the Baldy Mesa site’s battery’s performance in ways similar to the August 16 heatwave.

“The software is designed to help to extract more value from Baldy Mesa’s battery unit by dynamically optimizing when to buy, store and sell energy based on grid conditions,” said the news release.

Amazon says they are on a path to match the electricity used by their data centers, fulfillment centers, and other operations, with 100% renewable energy sources by 2025.

RELATED: Amazon Solar + Storage Project breaks ground in Adelanto

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