Accenture's Houston hub will introduce a new generative AI studio. Photo via Getty Images

Accenture has announced a new studio coming to Houston that will help its industrial clients with generative artificial intelligence.

The company announced that it will launch a network of studios across North America that will work with clients to explore generative AI applications in business. The initiative will support companies in navigating use cases, conducting AI pilots, and scaling programs. The studios will be in Accenture Innovation Hubs in Chicago, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Toronto and Washington, D.C.

“The studios are designed to help our clients move from interest to action to value, in a responsible way with clear business cases,” Manish Sharma, North America CEO of Accenture, says in the news release. “We are constantly refreshing our learnings from more than 3,000 client conversations on generative AI this year. We use these conversations as demand signals to understand the real-world challenges our clients face and invest in the areas of greatest need and opportunity.”

Each of the studios will have a specific industrial focus as well as broad support. Houston's location will specialize in Industry X, chemicals, energy and utilities industries. The other five markets, according to Accenture, are as follows:

  • Chicago will specialize in financial services, health, life sciences, consumer goods and services, Industry X and manufacturing.
  • New York will specialize in life sciences and financial services.
  • San Francisco will specialize in software and platforms and communications, media, and technology.
  • Toronto will specialize in financial services, retail, health, and public service.
  • Washington, D.C. will specialize in health, public service, including federal government services.

The initiative is a part of Accenture’s $3 billion investment in data and AI, and each of the studios will leverage Accenture’s top data and AI experts and partners, including expertise from within Accenture's Center for Advanced AI. Resource access also includes more than 1,450 patents and patent applications in AI solutions, as well as learnings from more than 300 active generative AI projects the company has worked on.

“Clients are ready to move beyond generative AI experimentation. They want to harness generative AI at scale to fundamentally reinvent their business,” Sharma adds. “Clients will come to the studios to access the latest innovations, experiment with new technologies, tools, and approaches to advance their skills, and develop roadmaps to adopt generative AI at scale.”

As the world becomes more reliant on renewable energy, artificial intelligence is proving to be a major game-changer. Photo via Getty Images

How AI technology is advancing a low-carbon future

the view from heti

In the midst of a continuously changing global energy landscape, industry experts, leading energy companies and corporations have rallied together for one common goal: to reach net zero by 2050. As the demand for energy increases, so does the urgency to develop more energy efficient technologies that reduce emissions.

As the world becomes more reliant on renewable energy, artificial intelligence is proving to be a major game-changer. AI is one of the world’s largest disruptors in tech to date with some tech giants pouring millions into research surrounding AI technologies.

While artificial intelligence may not be the first thing to come to mind when talking about the energy industry, it’s already proven its value in fueling the energy transition in multiple domains: improving renewable energy forecasting, grid operations, materials innovation and more. Companies like Accenture have shown how artificial intelligence can play a huge role in steering the energy transition toward a more efficient future.

As a technology services provider, Accenture bridges the gap between technology and human ingenuity to solve some of the world’s most complex issues. With more than 15 years of leadership in metaverse-related technology and more than 1,400 patents, the Accenture Metaverse team brings together metaverse-skilled professionals and market-leading capabilities across Accenture.

The Dublin, Ireland-based company recently announced plans to invest more than $3 billion in artificial intelligence and double its AI-related staff to accommodate demands. Accenture also plans to use generative AI for client work and launch an AI Navigator for Enterprise platform to help guide AI strategy, use cases, decision-making and policy.

With decades of investments and patents, Accenture is no stranger to AI. The company also recently introduced their Net Zero Metaverse, an immersive experience that allows users to explore the future of energy, at the third annual Future of Global Energy conference hosted by the Greater Houston Partnership and the Houston Energy Transition Initiative presented by Chevron. The innovative software system consists of multiple digital worlds including a Charge Stations of the Future, Energy Transition Igloo, a Space Lab and Hydrogen Heights, a renewable-powered neighborhood named after The Heights of Houston.

While Accenture is helping to shift to a more sustainable future, three ways that AI software has already transformed the way we generate, distribute and consume energy are through smart grids, optimized electricity consumption and electricity mobility.

Smart Grids
AI technology can help optimize the efficiency of smart grids, reducing the number of outages and mitigating impact for both residential and commercial customers. In its ability to analyze data collected by smart grids, AI can predict the demand of energy and adjust the flow of electricity accordingly.

Optimized electricity consumption
According to the World Economic Forum, reducing carbon emissions in buildings will be critical to achieving net zero emissions by 2050; buildings represent 39% of global greenhouse gas emissions. AI powered smart buildings and homes can help to reduce energy consumption and operating costs. With the ability to analyze data from sensors and other sources, AI software can identify patterns, predict equipment failures and maintenance needs and help building managers schedule maintenance repairs more efficiently.

Electricity mobility
According to the Congressional Budget Office, transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States with CO2 emissions representing about 97% of the global warming potential of all greenhouse emissions. AI software plays a key role in monitoring driving conditions, speed and load levels predicting the most efficient way to use available energy. AI software also helps in safety management and aids in the race to a pollution-free eco-friendly environment.

While AI technology is still advancing, and there is uncertainty in its accuracy, this breakthrough technology is shaping the future of society offering new approaches to optimize energy systems’ operation and reliability.

Learn more about what companies like Accenture are doing with AI technologies.

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This article originally ran on the Greater Houston Partnership's Houston Energy Transition Initiative blog. HETI exists to support Houston's future as an energy leader. For more information about the Houston Energy Transition Initiative, EnergyCapitalHTX's presenting sponsor, visit htxenergytransition.org.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

Texas-based Tesla gets China's initial approval of self-driving software

global greenlight

Shares of Tesla stock rallied Monday after the electric vehicle maker's CEO, Elon Musk, paid a surprise visit to Beijing over the weekend and reportedly won tentative approval for its driving software.

Musk met with a senior government official in the Chinese capital Sunday, just as the nation’s carmakers are showing off their latest electric vehicle models at the Beijing auto show.

According to The Wall Street Journal, which cited anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Chinese officials told Tesla that Beijing has tentatively approved the automaker's plan to launch its “Full Self-Driving,” or FSD, software feature in the country.

Although it's called FSD, the software still requires human supervision. On Friday the U.S. government’s auto safety agency said it is investigating whether last year’s recall of Tesla’s Autopilot driving system did enough to make sure drivers pay attention to the road. Tesla has reported 20 more crashes involving Autopilot since the recall, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

In afternoon trading, shares in Tesla Inc., which is based in Austin, Texas, surged to end Monday up more than 15% — its biggest one-day jump since February 2020. For the year to date, shares are still down 22%.

Tesla has been contending with its stock slide and slowing production. Last week, the company said its first-quarter net income plunged by more than half, but it touted a newer, cheaper car and a fully autonomous robotaxi as catalysts for future growth.

Wedbush analyst Dan Ives called the news about the Chinese approval a “home run” for Tesla and maintained his “Outperform” rating on the stock.

“We note Tesla has stored all data collected by its Chinese fleet in Shanghai since 2021 as required by regulators in Beijing,” Ives wrote in a note to investors. “If Musk is able to obtain approval from Beijing to transfer data collected in China abroad this would be pivotal around the acceleration of training its algorithms for its autonomous technology globally.”

Houston organization celebrates zero waste goal

earth day win

Discovery Green celebrated Earth Day with a major milestone this year — achieving it’s Zero Waste goal.

The nonprofit, along with Citizens’ Environmental Coalition and Houston Public Works, are announced that the 2024 Green Mountain Energy Earth Day, which generated more than 3,800 pounds of garbage, diverted the majority of that waste from landfills. "Zero Waste," as defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, is successfully diverting at least 90 percent of waste from the landfill.

On Earth Day, Discovery Green composted 2,200 pounds of waste and recycled 1,300 pounds of trash.

“Part of Discovery Green Conservancy’s mission is to serve as a village green for our city and be a source of health and happiness for all. Our goal is to sustain an exceptional environment for nature and people,” Discover Green President Kathryn Lott says in a news release. “We are beyond thrilled to have achieved Zero Waste certification.”

The achievement was made possible by volunteers from the University of Houston – Downtown.

Steve Stelzer, president of Citizens’ Environmental Coalition’s board of directors, acknowledged how rare the achievement is in a public space in a major city like Houston.

“Discovery Green Conservancy stepped up and made a commitment to weigh, measure and record everything. They should be congratulated to have done this at this scale,” Stelzer adds. “The Conservancy said they were going to do it and they did. It’s an amazing accomplishment.”

The 2024 event included:

  • 31,000 visitors in attendance
  • 60 + exhibitors
  • 100 + volunteers
  • 12 artists
    • 9 chalk artists
    • Donkeeboy and Donkeemom
    • Mark Bradford
  • 25 Mark Bradford artworks made of scrap presented in partnership with Houston First
  • 4 short films shown
  • 3,836.7 pounds of waste collected during Green Mountain Energy Earth Day

Texas hydrogen research hub opens to support statewide, DOE-backed initiative

hi to hydrogen

A Texas school has cut the ribbon on a new hydrogen-focused research facility that will play a role in a statewide, Department of Energy-funded energy transition initiative.

The Center for Electromechanics at The University of Texas, Frontier Energy, Inc., and GTI Energy celebrated the grand opening of a hydrogen research and demonstration facility in Austin as part of the “Demonstration and Framework for H2@Scale in Texas and Beyond” project, which is supported by the DOE's Hydrogen and Fuel Cell Technologies Office.

The hydrogen proto-hub is first-of-its-kind and part of Texas-wide initiative for a cleaner hydrogen economy and will feature contributions from organizations throughout the state. The facility will generate zero-carbon hydrogen by using water electrolysis powered by solar and wind energy, and steam methane reformation of renewable natural gas from a Texas landfill.

The hydrogen will be used to power a stationary fuel cell for power for the Texas Advanced Computing Center, and it will also supply zero-emission fuel to cell drones and a fleet of Toyota Mirai fuel cell electric vehicles. This method will mark the first time that multiple renewable hydrogen supplies and uses have been networked at one location to show an economical hydrogen ecosystem that is scalable.

“The H2@Scale in Texas project builds on nearly two decades of UT leadership in hydrogen research and development” Michael Lewis, Research Scientist, UT Austin Center for Electromechanics, say in a news release. “With this facility, we aim to provide the educated workforce and the engineering data needed for success. Beyond the current project, the hydrogen research facility is well-positioned for growth and impact in the emerging clean hydrogen industry.”

Over 20 sponsors and industry stakeholders are involved and include Houston-based partners in Center for Houston’s Future and Rice University Baker Institute for Public Policy. Industry heavyweights like Chevron, Toyota, ConocoPhillips, and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality are also part of the effort.

Texas hydrogen infrastructure and wind and solar resources position the state for clean hydrogen production, as evident in the recently released study, “A Framework for Hydrogen in Texas.” The study was part of a larger effort that started in 2020 with the H2@Scale project, which aims to develop clearer paths to renewable hydrogen as a “clean and cost-effective fuel” according to a news release. The facility will serve as an academic research center, and a model for future large-scale hydrogen deployments.

Participants in the DOE-funded HyVelocity Gulf Coast Hydrogen Hub will aim to gain insights from the H2@Scale project at UT Austin. The project will build towards a development of a comprehensive hydrogen network across the region. HyVelocity is a hub that includes AES Corporation, Air Liquide, Chevron, ExxonMobil, Mitsubishi Power Americas, Orsted, and Sempra Infrastructure. The GTI Energy administered HyVelocity involves The University of Texas at Austin, the Center for Houston’s Future, and Houston Advanced Research Center.

“H2@Scale isn't just about producing low-carbon energy, it's about creating clean energy growth opportunities for communities throughout Texas and the nation,” Adam Walburger, president of Frontier Energy, says in a news release. “By harnessing renewable energy resources to create zero-carbon hydrogen, we can power homes, businesses, transportation, and agriculture – all while creating jobs and reducing emissions.”