Aiming for carbon neutrality, K Group is using artificial intelligence to improve the energy efficiency of stores

K Group and EnerKey are carrying out a new pilot which uses artificial intelligence to identify opportunities to save energy at K-food stores. The first results indicate that artificial intelligence can help improve the energy efficiency of stores, by as much as thousands of megawatt hours per year. K Group believes that a similar approach could be used to achieve massive savings throughout society as a whole.

As part of its carbon neutral K Group by 2025 goal, K Group is seeking new ways of improving the energy efficiency of its approximately 1,800 K-stores.

“Food stores consume a lot of energy ensuring the cold chain of products. We are now investigating whether artificial intelligence can be used to find deviations in the energy use of stores, which could be tackled to achieve significant energy savings,” says Antti Kokkonen, Building Services Manager at K Group.

K Group has access to almost real-time data on the stores’ energy and water consumption. This data is analysed using artificial intelligence by combining it with various meteorological data on wind and temperature, for example.

From among the many hundreds of stores, artificial intelligence picks out those that are worth looking at more closely in terms of their energy efficiency. As it has so many stores, K Group believes that artificial intelligence will be able to offer measurable opportunities for improving energy efficiency.

“According to the first results, we estimate that based on the observations made with artificial intelligence we will be able to find new ways to improve the energy efficiency of an individual store by up to 5–10%,” Kokkonen says.

“A similar approach would benefit other property owners and users. Analytics services come into their own in particular when there are many similar types of locations, such as food stores, to be analysed. This makes it possible to find benchmarks from locations of similar size and age that are equipped with corresponding technical solutions.”

Towards a carbon neutral K Group

According to its emissions targets updated in the spring of 2020, K Group aims to be carbon neutral by 2025 and to reduce emissions from its own operations to zero by 2030. Key measures to achieve these targets include improving energy efficiency and switching to biofuels in domestic transports.

In 2019, a new ingenious heat circulation system was developed for K-food stores, which can reduce heat consumption by as much as 95%, making the K-food store almost carbon neutral in terms of energy. The internationally awarded heat circulation system has been installed in the first some 20 K-food stores. The aim is to install the heat circulation system in all suitable K-food stores by 2030.

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