27 Jul 2021

Event round-up: Could Quantum Hold the Key to Sustainability?

On 22 July techUK hosted the online event Could Quantum Computing hold the key to sustainability? As part of techUK’s Quantum Commercialisation Campaign and techUK’s Sustainability Programme

This webinar heard from UK Industry leaders in Quantum Computing to share their industry perspective on the environmental impact of quantum, how this differs from classical computing, and the innovative ways quantum solutions could support the race to net zero 

Crucially, this webinar also discussed how quantum could be used alongside other emerging technologies such as HPC and AI, to minimise our future energy impact. 

Speakers included:  

  • Steve Brierley, CEO and Co-Founder, Riverlane 

  • Andy Grant, Strategic HPC and Quantum Projects, Atos 

  • Dr Murray Simpson, Global Director, Sustainability, Climate and Transition, IBM  

  • Andy Stanford-Clarke, UK Quantum Leader, IBM 

  • Laura Foster, Programme Manager tech & innovation, techUK 

You can watch the webinar, and read the write up of the event, below: 

 IBM presentation 2:00; Riverlane 13:00; Atos 21:30 

Event Summary 

Dr Richard Murray and Andy Stanford-Clarke at IBM kicked off the conversation by identifying five key areas where quantum and sustainability can work together, including; quantum and sustainable financial services; reducing quantum in industrial products and services; new materials including batteries; and, carbon capture and storage. 

Andy was careful to add that whilst we still do not know the key use cases for quantum and sustainability, the use case of quantum simulating nature, such as ocean modelling, is very promising and that quantum computing will be able to simulate more accurately once we reach quantum advantage.  

Steve Brierley from Riverlane built upon on Andy’s insight into quantum modelling to discuss the creation of digital twins with quantum computing, and how they will be impactful in achieving net zero. He emphasised that businesses need to view quantum computing as a crucial tool to accelerate the pace of innovation, including solving some of the greatest challenges facing sustainability, just as AI or Supercomputers are used. 

Building accurate digital twins will give us the opportunity to test thousands of new ideas for achieving net zero in the current time it takes to trial just one. With a in depth description of Moore’s Law, he indicates we are getting closer to quantum advantage every day and therefore closer to quantum being a crucial tool for sustainability. However, as it stands there are multiple approaches to quantum computing and time will tell which approach is best for sustainable adoption 

Andy Grant from Atos presented next to explore the complementary role with High-performance computing (HPC) and quantum computing for decarbonisation. In his presentation Andy emphasised that Quantum allows businesses to address larger, more complex problems, improve accuracy of results and address time to solution, thereby reducing energy required to get there.  

The Atos approach to quantum computing is through quantum simulators. For businesses to achieve net zero (Atos has the target of net zero by 2028), they need to look across all aspects of a business from R&D, operations, supply chains and operational support.  

Research by BSG has indicated that even noisy intermediate scale Quantum computers are rife for carbon capture, and subsequently Atos presently is focussing on this use case with customers. 

He finishes by describing how quantum can work with HPC for energy efficiency, highlighting the potential use case of of Quantum Machine Learning (QML) which has been proven to speed up several key applications and reducing the time and energy needed to reach a solution. As such, in the future we can expect quantum accelerations embedded into supercomputers (HPC) in the coming years.  

Thank you to all of those who attended techUK’s event on quantum and sustainability. Please do reach out if you would like to learn more about techUK’s quantum commercialisation campaign. 

The Q&A starts with the speakers at 34:00 

This session is just one part of techUK’s year-long campaign on Quantum Commercialisation. In 2021, techUK will bring together the technology sector, key stakeholders, policy makers and the wider business community to discuss whether we have in place what is needed to drive forward the commercialisation of Quantum technologies; create a thriving Quantum market for new products and services; and support the development of a world leading Quantum industry.

Laura Foster

Laura Foster

Head of Technology and Innovation, techUK

Laura is techUK’s Head of Programme for Technology and Innovation.

She supports the application and expansion of emerging technologies, including Quantum Computing, High-Performance Computing, AR/VR/XR and Edge technologies, across the UK. As part of this, she works alongside techUK members and UK Government to champion long-term and sustainable innovation policy that will ensure the UK is a pioneer in science and technology

Before joining techUK, Laura worked internationally as a conference researcher and producer covering enterprise adoption of emerging technologies. This included being part of the strategic team at London Tech Week.

Laura has a degree in History (BA Hons) from Durham University, focussing on regional social history. Outside of work she loves reading, travelling and supporting rugby team St. Helens, where she is from.

[email protected]

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