The rise of artificial intelligence (AI) technology offers a great opportunity for the energy industry. Artificial intelligence and input query language provide us with a powerful tool against incorrect data.
For years and when I started working in the energy sector in India, the focus was on accelerating the use of coal and oil and gas and cleaning it up. For example, about 35 years ago, I worked in the development of fuel cell technology, but the goal was more efficient and cleaner utilization of coal with the help of carbon gas. Hydrogen as a directly available fuel was unknown at the time. We talked about turning coal gas into hydrogen, turning natural gas into hydrogen, and so on.
Just 35 years later, the concerns of the energy sector have completely changed. Renewable energy sources are the most important source of energy today. More than $400 billion was invested globally in renewable electricity generation capacity in 2021, compared to less than $140 billion in fossil fuel generation capacity in the same year. This means that many of us trained in the use of coal – for example my PhD was in coal-fired floating boilers – have had to rearrange our mental frameworks to stay relevant in these changed times.
Now imagine the impact of this change on the organization versus the individual. Take India’s NTPC, for example, which has about 58,000 MW of coal-fired power generation capacity and about 18,000 people — about 10,000 of whom are engineers who design, install and maintain power plants. NTPC has now switched from coal-based power generation to renewable power generation. They have installed over 3,000 MW of renewable electricity and plan to install 60,000 MW of renewable capacity by 2032. On the other hand, they want to expand coal-based capacity to about 3,000 MW, which has led NTPC to set up new companies to attract capital, manage real estate assets and so on. But their most important role in transition management is a major retraining initiative within the organization to manage this change. And this need for retraining is an aspect that most people, both in the workplace and in management, have not even considered.
So what are the basics of technical change management? Retraining human resources is a critical issue, but even more important than the corporate context is the personal context: how do we change to adapt to a changing world? The world in 20 years will be a very different place, just as the world today is so different from the world of the 1990s. Just imagine the changes that are happening in different sectors and not just in the energy sector.
We need to consider what “fit for the future” requires. In my opinion, a good education with clear foundations and an educational experience that emphasizes the development of life skills and understanding the curricula remains an essential pillar. Additionally, the ability to learn on the go and manage new trends constantly helps you become an influencer instead of a follower.
In the solar energy industry, where I currently work, we have seen examples of such change agents in the development of new and innovative models and standard operating procedures. For example, an Indian company with a rather un-Indian name, Sterling and Wilson, is today one of the world’s leading solar system installation and maintenance companies. Installation and the supply chain required for installation are based on standard operating procedures that are regularly reviewed based on recent experience and have helped both in standardization and acceleration. A visit to their website is an education: they record and present what they have learned on various topics.
Likewise, companies that have focused on creating decision-making structures enabling the introduction of solar energy have become market leaders in their segments, despite its higher initial costs. For example, the Mahindra Group has established an internal carbon price, which enables investment in solar projects instead of projects based on fossil fuels. This allowed it to “see” Electric Vehicles as the future.
Accordingly, the Tata Group has created an institutional architecture that enables sustainability-friendly investment decisions such that investment decisions are made at the top management level and then institutionalized processes decide on procurement, implementation, operations, marketing, etc. They are another major EV player in the Indian market. They also invest in the manufacture and installation of solar cells and strive to make steel low-carbon and zero-carbon.
We see changes in information, technology and management accelerating around us. The situation is changing and will continue to change. Managing change is a key ability that separates and will continue to separate the wheat from the chaff.
So, how do we prepare ourselves for change? People who have managed to manage tomorrow’s change have two important qualities.
The first is the ability to read and read widely: literature, popular fiction, technology, and management and finance. We must find time to do so. My window is early in the morning and I don’t like my dog who died in 2021 after being with us for about fifteen and a half years. He was very upset when I woke up early in the morning to read, which disturbed his sleep. It was a daily battle explaining to him that he needed to find another corner so I could read and he could continue to sleep. Another characteristic that depends on the first, but is not necessary to the continuation, is to present and integrate the ideas we discover through our readings into the methodologies and practices of our field, and to persist with changes if they do not work the first time.
For example, in the energy sector, we started reading about revolutionary LED lamps in the late 1990s and early 2000s. In the Energy Efficiency Office, we established many demonstration projects to introduce and popularize those that could have produced better results. By 2012, however, the price of LED bulbs had dropped to a level where they were cheaper than traditional incandescent bulbs and even CFL bulbs, but based on lifetime, not first cost. This led on the one hand – through the specially created Energy Efficiency Services Limited (EESL) – to an extensive procurement program to reduce prices and on the other hand to make LED lamps available to consumers in batches. The monthly installments were smaller than the monthly savings from replacing CFLs with LEDs. And what a revolutionary change it has been. Nowadays, it is not easy to find a CFL bulb anywhere; Almost all light sources are now LED lights and have been for more than five years.
So how do we read widely and how do we integrate new ideas into the work processes of our regions?
Books and magazines are good choices. Yet, the first thing that comes to mind for most of us, the thing that we have all used today is the internet to educate ourselves about new technologies, ideas and trends, primarily through search engines. We have often “copied and pasted” from websites identified by Google, especially when entering new areas of study. However, cutting and pasting is unethical, and programs such as “Turnitin” exist to ensure the originality of the work. We have also seen that in wheat, unlike in chaff, cutting and pasting decreases as one learns more about the subject. Their writings reflect more of their own experiences than the websites they had previously cut and pasted from. But for better or worse, Google and other search engines have helped us learn and manage change.
Now we’re seeing artificial intelligence evolve—especially programs like ChatGPT and Google Bard that rely on natural language processing. The experience these tools provide is both experiential and exceptional. For example, when I wrote on ChatGPT: “The future is about change. Solar energy is a change agent, and so is ChatGPT. The future is about being able to talk to ChatGPT about solar energy energy.”
And lo and behold, ChatGPT responded within seconds, and it’s instructive to read the full response I write here:
“The development of artificial intelligence technology and large language models such as ChatGPT are also agents of change in themselves and have the potential to influence the future in many ways. Being able to chat with AI models like ChatGPT is convenient and opens up new opportunities for education, research and innovation. For example, ChatGPT can provide quick and accurate answers to questions about solar energy, making it easier for people to learn and understand this important technology. It can also be used to analyze data and make predictions about solar energy and the energy sector more broadly. In addition, the use of artificial intelligence in the energy sector is already leading to innovations and improvements, such as optimizing the placement of solar panels and developing innovative network systems that can better manage energy distribution.
In short, the future of solar energy and AI technology are intertwined, and both have the potential to drive positive change and shape the world in exciting and meaningful ways.
This answer is pretty good! Quality output is “thinking”, relevant and precise. It is well written and correct too.
I found that increasing or decreasing the length and precision of ChatGPT’s input query and even repeating the same question can change the response. This implies that all ChatGPT responses are native and the response depends on the input query. This suggests that ChatGPT and other natural language processors can completely shape our lives and experiences. These answers are a much faster way to learn and share our learning.
In a sense, this is like many search engines. For example, in Google, the quality of the feed determines which websites are identified based on that query. So our future is about how we interact with future ChatGPTs (i.e. artificial intelligence tools): how we formulate our input queries and actually check the responses.
There is no doubt that a well-formed input query increases our productivity many times over. It remains to be seen whether the AI algorithms using ChatGPT and its brethren can sift between information and fake news. Still, AI and input query language provide us with a powerful tool against false information. There is also a fear that the use of these tools will increase electronic intrusion into our lives, increasing the potential for remote data capture due to this enhanced intrusion.
There will be questions about how we use future ChatGPTs and Google Bards. For example, here are four questions:
- Will the results of these AI-powered natural language programs be more acceptable in the classrooms of tomorrow than the cut and paste of Internet searches today?
- Can we find ways to capture the improved productivity of these AI-based natural language programs in the classroom and at work?
- Is the prompt technique, when referring to the structuring and formatting of input queries, taught in schools or do we continue to learn it entirely on our own?
- Are there methods and rules of thumb to help us verify the responses produced by these programs?
These programs predict that disruptive changes may occur in our homes, classrooms, and offices. We need to be ready for this change, regardless of whether it is formally incorporated into offices and schools.
We need to ensure that we are ready to manage change: change has happened and will continue to happen globally. This is of course a challenge for us, but it is also a great opportunity. Our ability to integrate new information through our skills and worldview determines how we move through time. Learning new information is essential, and new skills can help us be more ready for change.
Ajay Mathur is the CEO of the International Solar Alliance (ISA).
This article is part of ISA’s monthly column.