Refineries like this one, power plants and renewable energy technologies run by Xcel are getting a boost from AI technologies. (Source: Xcell)

From Power Plant Automation to Digitization, AI Adds to Xcell’s Bottom Line

AI is bringing the world together in ways we had not thought of before. In West Africa, the Swiss company Xcell is partnering with U.S.-based Beyond Limits to crank up a new power plant driven by AI. And as writer Ken Silverstein of points out it’s not exactly as most people might think it is. Without a doubt, many are worried that AI will replace people in their jobs. To a small extent, it is, but the good news is that it also adds jobs and makes doing them easier.

Automation helps to eliminate “mundane activities” so that those running heavy industrial operations can solve problems and improve performance, which translates into healthier bottom lines.

“Nothing we build is designed to replace a person,” says Michael Krause, senior manager for oil and gas at Beyond Limits. “People need to make decisions. But AI can remove that mundane component of their work and allow managers to focus on the value-added part.”

The bottom line is being transformed in many businesses, across the board, making companies more profitable.

According to McKinsey & Company, AI and digitization can increase asset productivity by up to 20% while also reducing maintenance costs by 10%. And IDC, a market intelligence business, says that spending on such technologies will more than double from $50 billion today to $110 billion in 2024.

“One of the keys to power operations is handling variations in supply and demand,” says Lynnwood Farr, chief executive of Xcell. “We feel that (AI) will give us the upper hand to control costs and maintain efficient, dependable power generation for our customers.”

From the Weather to Oil Wells

The same AI tools can predict weather patterns. That will allow grid operators to more accurately gauge when wind and solar resources will be available for use. Reliability is improved.

So more productivity, less worry about supply chains and efficiency have all been good reasons for the incredible growth of AI in companies worldwide.

Beyond Limits and NVIDIA are using AI to identify the best locations for their wells — a process that they say will improve the net present value of those assets by 10%. How? The timeline to place a well has been reduced from months to hours, netting a company millions of dollars and thereby creating a quicker return on investment.