Q&A: How AI and big data can go green

By Jeffrey Tomich | 04/15/2024 07:07 AM EDT

A computer science professor is exploring ways to help big electricity users tap clean energy.

Andrew Chien

Andrew Chien. University of Chicago, iStock

The rise of artificial intelligence. A large and growing demand for data.

Both trends require massive amounts of electricity to run powerful computers, posing a challenge as the power grid shifts away from fossil fuels to run increasingly on wind, solar and batteries.

It’s a thorny problem that grid planners and utilities are starting to grapple with as they look toward the future. It’s also a challenge Andrew Chien and his team of researchers at the University of Chicago have worked years to help solve.


Chien is a computer science professor and former vice president of research at Intel. His research group, the Large-scale Sustainable Systems Group, is working on a project known as zero-carbon cloud computing — using renewable energy and resource management tools to sync up the energy usage of power grids and data centers.