Technology Trending: carbon accounting, condition monitoring, next-gen AI, smart cities


New carbon accounting solutions, improving asset condition monitoring ROI, advances in analogue deep learning and The Line at Saudia Arabia’s future city Neom are on this week’s technology radar.

Carbon accounting

As companies increasingly move to reduce carbon emissions and seek measurable data for supply to customers for ESG reporting, a stream of new blockchain-based and other solutions for carbon accounting are emerging – somewhat reminiscent of the early days of blockchain and the rush of new entrants with their white papers and ‘initial coin offerings’ for some energy sector venture, of which few have fulfilled their promise.

Examples of recent weeks are New Frontier Markets, “a technology company dedicated to enabling access to the new low-carbon economy”, which has announced the launch of its proprietary blockchain carbon credit marketplace, and a partnership between Flowcarbon and Menthol Protocol to address the “hard to abate” emissions with tokenised credits.

Meanwhile, Normative, a Swedish provider that claims the world’s first carbon accounting engine, has raised €31 million (US$31.5 million) in Series B funding from new and existing investors to expand its service, particularly on the more challenging scope 3 supply chain emissions.

Condition monitoring ‘need to knows’

Condition monitoring has transformed industries but unlocking its full potential requires recasting operations with data front and centre, according to Onyx Insight, which provides solutions and solutions focused on the wind energy industry.

In a new report on turbine condition monitoring – and likely applicable in other sectors – the company raises questions around the effectiveness of in-house analysis teams in managing large, multi-brand portfolios, and whether OEMs or O&M service providers are adequately incentivised to deliver support.

Five lifecycle events suggested where owners and operators should scrutinise condition monitoring strategies to ensure optimised ROI are end of warranty, operational stage, portfolio growth and diversification, change of O&M contract or M&As and late stage and life extension.

Next-gen AI and programmable resistors

Machine learning and artificial intelligence are becoming more and more widely used and as the boundaries are pushed, energy consumption is increasing.

But that could be close to changing with the next area of AI, analogue deep learning. This technology, which relies on computation performed in memory and in operations in parallel, promises much-reduced consumption along with faster computation with programmable resistors that are built up in complex layers to form digital neural networks.

Now scientists at MIT have found that with the incorporation of the inorganic phosphosilicate glass – basically silica gel, commonly used as a desiccant – in the fabrication, their devices are enabled to run 1 million times faster than previous versions and are extremely energy efficient.

“This work has put these devices at a point where they now look really promising for future applications,” said Jesús A. del Alamo, Professor in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.

The next step is to re-engineer the new technology, the protonic programmable resistor, which is of nanometre scale, for high volume manufacturing.

The Line at Neom

Would you like to live in a ‘city’ 170km long, 500m tall and just 200m wide with approximately 9 million other people?

That is the vision for The Line, a “civilizational revolution that puts humans first”, which has been unveiled for the Neom future city development in the northwest of Saudi Arabia.

The Line, set to have a footprint of just 34km2, is planned to run on 100% renewable energy and to “prioritise people’s health and well-being over transportation and infrastructure as in traditional cities”.

HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, chairman of the Neom Board of Directors said: “The designs revealed for the city’s vertically layered communities will challenge the traditional flat, horizontal cities and create a model for nature preservation and enhanced human liveability.”

With the ‘Zero gravity urbanism’ concept of The Line intended to give people the possibility to move seamlessly in three dimensions – up, down, across – they are touted to be able to reach all their daily needs within five minutes, while a high-speed rail will provide end-to-end transit of 20 minutes.