BMUV funding initiative "AI lighthouse projects for the environment, climate, nature and resources"
Artificial intelligence (AI) offers major opportunities to protect the environment, mitigate climate change and preserve resources and biodiversity. Innovations based on AI can promote sustainable consumption, accelerate the expansion of renewable energies, detect marine plastic litter or facilitate a switch to sustainable transport.
In 2019, the Federal Environment Ministry (BMUV) set up the funding initiative "AI lighthouse projects for the environment, climate, nature and resources" to promote projects that use AI to tackle environmental challenges and serve as models for green, climate-friendly and nature-compatible digital technologies.
35 projects launched in the first funding period
300 ideas were submitted in the first funding period. 35 projects were approved, receiving total funding of 46 million euros.
The selected ideas reflect the important scope of AI applications and the numerous opportunities they offer for environmental protection, nature conservation and the fight against climate change. They range from smart grid operation as part of the energy transition to improved urban climate adaptation and AI-optimised rail transport. Other projects aim to reduce nitrate concentrations in ground water or improve waste sorting.
Start of second funding period in 2021
The second period of the funding initiative started in the autumn of 2021. The submitted projects are currently being reviewed. The Federal Environment Ministry is again looking for high-profile projects that take advantage of AI's opportunities for the environment and climate while minimising the associated risks.
The second period has two funding priorities:
Funding priority 1: "AI innovations for the climate"
The "AI innovations for the climate" funding priority supports projects for the development of AI applications that help to reduce or prevent emissions of greenhouse gases.
Funding priority 2: "Resource-efficient AI"
The "Resource-efficient AI" funding priority specifically supports projects that reduce the energy and resource consumption of AI systems and their infrastructure.
Information on the second call for applications for funding
The funding initiative is aimed at universities and other research institutions, companies, municipalities, associations and federations. An important goal of the initiative is to promote the transfer from research to practice. In consequence, the Federal Environment Ministry is privileging projects that cooperate with science, industry, civil society and public authorities to develop specific AI solutions for the benefit of the climate, environmental protection and resource conservation. In addition, all projects must have a clear positive environmental balance: the positive effects of the AI application on the environment must outweigh the electricity and resource consumption for developing and applying the AI system.
General information on the funding initiative
The funding initiative "AI lighthouse projects for the environment, climate, nature and resources" contributes to implementing the German government's AI strategy. The main objective of the strategy is to make Germany and Europe a leading hub for AI technologies while promoting the responsible development and use of AI for the common good.
The executing agency is Zukunft - Umwelt - Gesellschaft (ZUG), a federally-owned service provider for the promotion of environmental protection, nature conservation and climate action.
Five-point programme on AI
The funding initiative contributes to implementing the Federal Environment Ministry’s five-point programme "Artificial Intelligence in support of the environment and climate". The programme aims to making AI more sustainable and exploiting its potential for the benefit of the climate and the environment.