RAD building installation

Nottingham project set to reduce CO2 emissions through AI

Tuesday, 12 March 2024

Researchers at the University of Nottingham have received a share of one billion pounds for a project aiming to reduce CO2 emissions through the creation of an AI model that will improve the accuracy of short-range weather forecasting for photovoltaic (PV) production.

Looking skywards from the top of the RAD Building

As the UK continues its journey to net zero, PV generation and usage is expected to increase as a sustainable alternative to other energy sources like coal. However, unlike traditional power stations that have a standard level of output, PV relies on the weather and batteries to ensure a consistent level of input – meaning that accurate weather forecasting has a crucial role to play.

Traditional forecasting methods have used satellite imagery, which cover larger areas and can be distorted by cloud cover, to provide a prediction that, if incorrect, would affect the output of PV panels. Whereas the comprehensive AI model being developed at the University of Nottingham will combine sky images with numerical weather data to significantly improve prediction accuracy by more than ten per cent.

Professor Yupeng Wu, Chair in Building Physics in the University of Nottingham’s Faculty of Engineering, said: “We will use fisheye lens cameras, which will be placed on the ground to monitor the sky and capture images that will be inputted to our AI model, combined with weather data and temperature regulations to provide us an in-depth snapshot of the weather over the next ten minutes in that specific location."

While ten minutes may not seem like a long period of time, the way we’ll be using the data is specifically linked to grid management. Our forecast will be able to ‘warn’ the grid as to how much PV is likely to be produced and, therefore, how much power is needed from the battery to ensure the power supply is balanced.
Professor Yupeng Wu

Nottingham is one of eight AI initiatives to have been selected from across the UK as part of the government’s AI for Decarbonisation Innovation Programme, which is enabled through the one-billion-pound Net Zero Innovation Portfolio (NZIP).

Two test sites have been selected in Nottingham, one on the roof of the Research Acceleration and Demonstration Building on the university’s Jubilee Campus and another at the Aldi Warehouse located in Long Eaton with that hope that the technology will be able to be scaled up in future.

Our long-term goal is to not only be able to integrate our AI model into the main system at local weather stations so that we can improve forecasts, but also to help the future PV network and allow companies to manage their energy more sustainably.
Professor Yupeng Wu

Story credits

More information is available from Yupeng Wu, Faculty of Engineering, at, or; Danielle Hall, Media Relations Manager at the University of Nottingham, at or 0115 846 7156.     

About the Faculty of Engineering

Made up of six departments – Architecture and Built Environment, Chemical and Environmental Engineering, Civil Engineering, Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Mechanical, Materials and Manufacturing Engineering and Foundation Engineering and Physical Sciences – the university’s Faculty of Engineering is home to more than 5,600 students and 800 staff.

The faculty, which has educated engineers and architects for more than 140 years, was the first in the country to be accredited with an Athena SWAN Gold Award for excellence in advancing gender equality across higher education and research and is home to multiple state-of-the-art facilities, including the recently opened £40m Power Electronics and Machines Centre (PEMC).

With research at its heart, 20 research groups are undertaking pioneering projects for a sustainable future across several themes – including net zero transport, sustainable energies and the built environment, advanced manufacturing, and healthcare technologies – and has delivered a positive impact in more than 20 countries. Within those countries, the faculty’s research has supported 500 companies and three governments – that have changed their strategies as a result of its research – and has also directly created jobs for around 3,000 people across the world.

Danielle Hall - Media Relations Manager - Faculty of Engineering
Phone: 0115 846 7156

Notes to editors:

About the University of Nottingham

Ranked 32 in Europe and 16th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings: Europe 2024, the University of Nottingham is a founding member of the Russell Group of research-intensive universities. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience, and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement.

Nottingham was crowned Sports University of the Year by The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2024 – the third time it has been given the honour since 2018 – and by the Daily Mail University Guide 2024.

The university is among the best universities in the UK for the strength of our research, positioned seventh for research power in the UK according to REF 2021. The birthplace of discoveries such as MRI and ibuprofen, our innovations transform lives and tackle global problems such as sustainable food supplies, ending modern slavery, developing greener transport, and reducing reliance on fossil fuels.

The university is a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally - and our graduates are the second most targeted by the UK's top employers, according to The Graduate Market in 2022 report by High Fliers Research.

We lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, in partnership with Nottingham Trent University, a pioneering collaboration between the city’s two world-class institutions to improve levels of prosperity, opportunity, sustainability, health and wellbeing for residents in the city and region we are proud to call home.

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