27 Oct 2021

Quantum technologies changing the way we tackle climate change

Piece by Karan Pinto and Nicholas Lee, Co-Chief Entanglers, Entangle Community. Together they have spent the last 3 years focused on quantum technology commercialisation across sectors globally. In this thought piece, they discuss hybrid quantum-classical capabilities for sustainability. Part of techUK's Quantum Commercialisation week. #QuantumUK

Society is increasingly tackling sustainability issues head-on: climate change, food insecurities, poverty, gender equality, clean energy, responsible consumption & production, - to name a few.

At the core of many sustainability challenges are the world’s most complex, computationally intensive, and classically challenging problems (e.g. in design, physics, and chemistry). Large companies spend millions to push performance limits through coupling advanced algorithms & specialized hardware systems (eg. HPC, GPUs). They do this for highly valuable applications where getting high quality answers in reasonable time frames matters greatly. 

Now, Quantum Technology changes the nature of how we compute to find solutions, which are efficient and scalable, for certain instances through being faster, more accurate, and more optimal. The rapid advancements in Hybrid Quantum Algorithms and Co-Processor powered Compute Models are making possible sizeable improvements and are upending the way we think of building a sustainable society.

Considering the quantum benefit for sustainability application from a near term commercialization perspective, requires one to be highly cognizant of the limitations in the NISQ era to tackle real world scale problems. Here, hybrid quantum-classical capabilities are interesting to explore as they bring together the best of both worlds. And the prospects of finding practical advantages for specific applications today is attractive given the climate urgency.

The most interesting application areas for exploration are:

  • Material Science x high precision simulation of molecules and reaction processes: Batteries Material Design for large scale energy storage and EVs; cost effective aqueous amine substrates for Carbon Capture
  • Computational Energy Efficiency: Offloading intensive / complex workloads to Quantum Processing Units for better scaling and time to solution
  • Combinatorial Optimization Problems within Carbon Intensive Industrial Processes: Plant Equipment Parameter Setting, System Layout, Distribution, scheduling and logistics  
  • Quantum Sensing: Higher efficiency solar cells, fossil fuel leak detection, Battery Diagnostics, Greenhouse Gas monitoring

The challenge in front of us is how to bring together the ecosystem and intelligence across Quantum Science, Climate Science, Policy and Entrepreneurs to craft quantum-powered applications for societal and sustainable gains and further accelerate addressing SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals). We have the capability as a society through our insights and innovation across academia, start-ups, government institutions, researchers, and corporate citizens. At Entangle, we are enabling these types of discussions to persist, creating intimate spaces or community areas where we can bring together the ecosystem to solve society’s most pressing challenges. 

We are just in the infancy of exploiting the differentiated capability quantum brings to our tool kits and our community platform gives us the opportunity to share progress, discuss use cases, and advance opportunities most relevant to Sustainability.

I hope that further reducing the obscurity of the art of the possible & barriers, we can all rally around a key global focus for the future of humankind that stands to make sizeable gains as part of the quantum adoption curve. 

Authors Karan Pinto and Nicholas Lee, Co-Chief Entanglers, Entangle Community. Together they have spent the last 3 years focused on quantum technology commercialisation across sectors globally

Website: https://entangle.community/

Community: https://quantum.entangle.community/home

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/entangle-community/

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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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Rory Daniels

Rory Daniels

Programme Manager, Emerging Technologies

Rory joined techUK in June 2023 after three years in the Civil Service on its Fast Stream leadership development programme.

During this time, Rory worked on the Government's response to Covid-19 (NHS Test & Trace), school funding strategy (Department for Education) and international climate and nature policy (Cabinet Office). He also tackled the social care crisis whilst on secondment to techUK's Health and Social Care programme in 2022.

Before this, Rory worked in the House of Commons and House of Lords alongside completing degrees in Political Economy and Global Politics.

Today, he is techUK's Programme Manager for Emerging Technologies, covering dozens of technologies including metaverse, drones, future materials, robotics, blockchain, space technologies, nanotechnology, gaming tech and Web3.0.

[email protected]

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Elis Thomas

Elis Thomas

Programme Manager, Tech and Innovation, techUK

Elis joined techUK in December 2023 as a Programme Manager for Tech and Innovation, focusing on AI, Semiconductors and Digital ID.

He previously worked at an advocacy group for tech startups, with a regional focus on Wales. This involved policy research on innovation, skills and access to finance.

Elis has a Degree in History, and a Masters in Politics and International Relations from the University of Winchester, with a focus on the digitalisation and gamification of armed conflicts.

[email protected]

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