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IBM Research launches 10y project to support China in transforming national energy systems; “Green Horizon”

IBM Research is launching a 10-year project to support China in transforming its national energy systems and protecting the health of citizens. Dubbed “Green Horizon”, the initiative sets out to surpass current global practices in three areas critical to China’s sustainable growth: air quality management; renewable energy forecasting; and energy optimization for industry. Led by IBM’s China Research laboratory, the initiative will tap into the company’s network of 12 global research labs and create an innovation ecosystem of partners from government, academia, industry and private enterprise.

One of the first partners to come on board is the Beijing Municipal Government. Through a collaboration agreement, the two parties have agreed to work together to develop solutions which can help tackle the city’s air pollution challenges. The collaboration will leverage IBM technologies such as cognitive computing, optical sensors and the internet of things all based on a Big Data and analytics platform and drawing on IBM’s deep experience in weather prediction and climate modeling.

China has made great achievements and contributed much to the world’s economic growth over the past 30 years. It now has an opportunity to lead the world in sustainable energy and environmental management. While other nations waited until their economies were fully developed before taking comprehensive action to address environmental issues, China can leverage IBM’s most advanced information technologies to help transform its energy infrastructures in parallel with its growth.

—D.C. Chien, Chairman and CEO, IBM Greater China Group

China’s economic growth over the past several decades has raised the living standards of hundreds of millions of Chinese citizens and led to China becoming the second largest economy in the world. However, the resulting environmental impact, particularly air pollution, has become a priority for the Chinese government and a matter of global importance.

Urban air quality management. Global urbanization is creating air quality challenges for all major cities around the world. In China, where cities have been the engines of much of the country’s economic growth over the past decade, the government has launched the “Airborne Pollution Prevention and Control Action Plan” as it moves to safeguard the health of approximately 700 million people living in urban areas.

The city of Beijing will invest more than $160 billion to improve air quality and deliver on its target of reducing harmful fine Particulate Matter (PM2.5) particles by 25% by 2017. To support the initiative, IBM is partnering with the Beijing Municipal Government on a system to enable authorities to pinpoint the type, source and level of emissions and predict air quality in the city.

IBM’s cognitive computing systems will analyze and learn from streams of real-time data generated by air quality monitoring stations, meteorological satellites and IBM’s new-generation optical sensors—all connected by the internet of things. By applying supercomputing processing power, scientists from IBM and the Beijing Government aim to create visual maps showing the source and dispersion of pollutants across Beijing 72 hours in advance with street-scale resolution.

With accurate, real-time data about Beijing’s air quality, the government will be able to take rapid action to address environmental issues by adjusting production at specific factories or alerting citizens about developing air quality issues.

Renewable energy forecasting. The Chinese government recently announced increased investment in solar, wind, hydro and biomass energy in a bid to decrease its dependency on fossil fuels. To support the objective, IBM has developed a renewable energy forecasting system to help energy grids harness and manage alternative energy sources.

The solution combines weather prediction and Big Data analytics to accurately forecast the availability of renewable energy which is renowned for its variability. It enables utility companies to forecast the amount of energy which will be available to be redirected into the grid or stored - helping to ensure that as little as possible is wasted. It increases the viability of renewable energy, helping the Chinese government to realize its objective of getting 13% of consumed energy from non-fossil fuels by 2017 and enabling the construction of the world’s biggest renewable grids.

Sample user interface from IBM's Hyref energy forecasting system. The display shows the predicted amount of renewable energy (graph right) generated by a wind farm (map left) based on current and forecast weather conditions. The close relationship between the yellow lines (forecast energy) and blue line (actual energy), illustrates the high accuracy of the system (over 90%). Click to enlarge.

Based on IBM’s “Hybrid Renewable Energy Forecasting” (HyRef) technology, the solution uses weather modeling capabilities, advanced cloud imaging technology and sky-facing cameras to track cloud movements, while sensors monitor wind speed, temperature and direction. It can predict the performance of individual renewable energy farms and estimate the amount of energy several days ahead. The system has already been rolled out to 30 wind, solar and hydro power sources.

The biggest deployment is at China’s largest renewable energy initiative—the Zhangbei Demonstration Project managed by State Grid Jibei Electricity Power Company Limited (SG-JBEPC) in the Northern province of Hebei. Using the system, SG-JBEPC is able to integrate 10% more alternative energy (enough for 14,000 homes) into the national grid. With a prediction accuracy of 90% proven on Zhangbei’s wind turbines, it is one of the most accurate energy forecasting systems in the world.

Energy optimization for industry. China’s economic growth over the past 10 years has led it to becoming the biggest energy consumer in the world. As part of the transformation of Chinese industry, the government has committed to reducing the country’s carbon intensity by 40-45% by the year 2020, compared with 2005 levels (equivalent to 130 million tons of coal per year).

To support these goals, IBM is developing a new system to help monitor, manage and optimize the energy consumption of industrial enterprises, representing more than 70% of China’s total energy consumption.

Using a Big Data and analytics platform deployed over the cloud, it will analyze data generated by energy monitoring devices and identify opportunities for conservation. It could be used to analyze data from industrial enterprises in different cities and identify which sites and equipment waste the most energy. The system will be valuable for guiding decisions about optimization and investment in China’s most power hungry industries such as steel, cement, chemical and non-ferrous metal.

The new energy optimization system for industry leverages IBM’s expertise in regional energy management in China. IBM is already engaged with China Southern Grid to manage the energy consumption of HengQin Island in Guangdong province helping the island to decrease energy consumption, costs and CO2 emissions.



What an interesting approach to solve a huge problem. IBM is well equipped to measure the 'as is' pollution level and predict future levels with various correction solutions.

Wouldn't be surprised to see the arrival of:

1. a huge push on accelerated use of cleaner vehicles, mainly electrified units in all major Chinese cities. (Many Chinese e-vehicle manufacturers such as BYD will contribute to the solution)

a. huge push on accelerated production and installation of (RE) Solar and Wind power generation units and a slow down in the construction of CPPs.

Once China has identified a problem, it is very fast to come up with solutions. By 2020 or so, China will probably lead with the introduction of clean vehicles and clean energy production.


Ahh China.
Is there anything China will not, in the coming decade or two and beyond, accomplish better than the rest of the World?
A model society with responsive and productive citizens all contributing to a techno-Utopia, mostly NIMBYism free and activist-lite. When will people learn that almost all problems are technical problems that require directed cooperation rather than redundant and self-defeating, wealth-concentrating competition? I see: By 2030, China will have the highest quantity, proportion of vehicles, and miles driven per capita for zero-emission vehicles in the world. By 2050, top GDP per capita, lowest carbon emissions per capita, highest number of patents per capita in energy tech, and highest speed and transit spots per capita in the world. This is what technology, however they obtained it ;) will do for you. By then, a planned society with more choice, opportunity, and wealth than so-called free nations. Give me a gilded cage with a small accessible door over a rusty-and-run-down wild-west american ranch, at that time, any day. I just hope that future Chinese products won't be so perfectly engineered, cost-effective, and ubiquitous that all current G7 countries' tech economies won't dry up and blow away.


Yes Jer, if the current relative development rate keeps up, China's GDP could be much higher than USA's and could match the total of the other G6 nations by 2050 or so. This will not be real news but rather a return to past history or where we were some 2000 years ago.

The middle-East, Egypt, Greece, the Romans, many modern European countries (Russia, Spain, France, England and Germany for a short 10 years etc) had their turn leading the Western World but China was the real leader in Asia for 2,000+ years. After a dark 200 years, China is coming back to its historical leading role.

This time around, China may become the World leading nation for a few centuries or so. Competition may eventually come from India with its 1.5 to 2.0 billion people in the post 2100 era.


A population twice Europe with no mention of its communist atrocities: .. 65 million dead ..

Considering -- at least it doesn't look like this is going to be America's century.


There are many types of atrocities and governance.

1. Working for $2.60/jour in mid-western restaurants and/or on California farms is a severe atrocity that nobody wants to mention.

2. Living without medical insurances is another severe atrocity that the majority (South of the border) think that's what is just and required to become rich.

3. Electing pre-sold politicians every 4 years to better represent the hands who paid for their election expenses is was is called New Democracy.

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