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Azure high-performance computing provides a platform for energy industry innovation at scale.

The rising demand for energy

Global energy demand has rapidly increased over the last few years and looks set to continue accelerating at such a pace. With a booming middle class, economic growth, digitization, urbanization, and increased mobility of populations, energy suppliers are in a race to leverage the development of new technologies that can more optimally and sustainably generate, store, and transport energy to consumers.

With the impact of climate change adding urgency to minimizing energy waste, in addition to optimizing power production leaders in the renewable energy as well as oil and gas industries are accelerating sector-wide innovation initiatives that can drive differentiated impact and outcomes at scale.

As the population of developing countries continues to expand, the energy needs of billions of additional people in rural and especially urban areas will need to be catered to. McKinsey estimates that global energy consumption will triple by 2050, with oil and gas accounting for 65 percent of power consumption by then.

In addition, supplies of conventional oil and gas are also expected to decline in the not-too-distant future, shrinking in concentration to mostly the Middle East (oil) and countries like Russia, Iran, and Qatar (gas). As a result, the transition to more sustainable sources of power is leading global energy producers to leverage next-generation technologies to transform their solutions while simultaneously optimizing their operations.

New innovators in the renewable energy industry are also adopting next-generation technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), advanced analytics, 3-D imaging, and the internet of things (IoT), supported by high-performance computing (HPC) capabilities, to maximize energy production and ensure a smoother transition to a more sustainable path.

Optimizing operational excellence in the energy industry

Instead of investing in complex, costly, and time-intensive on-premises resources, global energy leaders are leveraging the power of cloud capabilities such as Azure HPC + AI, to simulate highly complex, large-scale models and visualize seismic imaging and modeling, resulting in huge economic gains.

One of the key innovations enabling this strategic advantage is the dynamic scaling capability of Azure HPC + AI, powered by GPUs, which are ideal for running remote visualization, optimized virtual machines, and can be augmented with deep learning and predictive analytics, allowing customers to have on-demand intelligent computing to solve complex problems and drive tangible business outcomes.

Energy multinational bp, for example, believes technology innovation is the key to making a successful transition to net zero. The company chose to create digital twins to find opportunities for optimization and carbon reduction.

Drawing on over 250 billion data signals from an IoT network spanning bp's global operating assets, the company identified various opportunities to scale the digital twin solution to its entire operating base and reduce emissions by as much as 500,000 tons of CO2 equivalent every year.

Going green—Energy industry innovation abounds

The green energy sector is also grabbing hold of the opportunity presented by these exponential technologies to speed up the journey toward a more sustainable energy ecosystem.

Italian energy infrastructure operator Snam is harnessing Azure AI and a full stack of Azure IoT services to reduce carbon emissions and help meet its net-zero targets. Energy efficiency is top of the company's agenda. Snam aims to cut methane emissions by 55 percent by 2025, reach net zero by 2040, and exclusively transport decarbonized gas by 2050.

With any leakage in its operations posing a threat to field workers, maintenance staff, and people living near their network—not to mention the environment—Snam deployed an IoT network for real-time monitoring and to enhance its data collection and processing capabilities.

For wind energy solutions provider Vestas Wind Systems, a combination of Azure HPC and partner Minds.ai's machine learning platform, DeepSim, helped its wind farms mitigate the wake effect, generate more energy, and build a sustainable energy future.

Drawing on the Azure HBv3 virtual machines using third-generation AMD EPYCTM processors, Vestas can scale up and run millions of complex simulations that inform how controllers adjust turbines to optimize energy production.

The computing power offered by the AMD-based Azure HBv3 nodes allows Vestas to drive efficiencies that have the potential to unlock significantly more power and higher profits for wind farm operators by minimizing the estimated 10 percent of wind energy that is lost to wake effects.

Key takeaways

As the energy industry eyes a period of unprecedented growth and change, the role of technology will become ever more profound.

Leveraging powerful Microsoft Cloud capabilities such as HPC, AI, advanced analytics, big data, and IoT, the integrated advanced technology capabilities that have previously been the reserve of only a handful of the largest companies are now truly available to anyone.

Supported by these powerful next-generation technologies, energy companies can unlock greater efficiency, innovation, and growth to achieve gains across their operations and drive the world towards a brighter energy future.

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