Alphabet's London-based AI outfit DeepMind and the National Grid are in early-stage talks to reduce the UK's power usage purely through neural networks and machine learning—no new infrastructure required.

Demis Hassabis, co-founder and CEO of DeepMind (and lead programmer on Peter Molyneux's Theme Park), hopes that the UK's energy usage could be reduced by as much as 10 percent, just through AI-led optimisation. The UK generated around 330 terrawatt-hours (TWh) of energy in 2014, at a cost of tens of billions of pounds—so a 10 percent reduction could be pretty significant, both in terms of money spent and carbon dioxide produced.

The National Grid, owned by a publicly traded company of the same name, owns and operates the UK's power transmission network—that is, the country's power lines and major substations. The sources of energy—power stations, hydro plants, wind turbines, and a smattering of solar panels—are owned by other big companies (primarily EDF and E.On).

Importantly, though, it is the National Grid's job to balance supply and demand across the network, so that the AC frequency that arrives at your house is always within ±1% of 50Hz. Energy demands are usually quite predictable, in that they closely align with standard human behaviour (waking and sleeping hours) and the weather. Energy supply, however, is much less reliable, especially as the UK adds more wind and solar power to the mix.

Ars Technica UK → DeepMind in talks with National Grid to reduce UK energy use by 10%