GHGSat – A novel initiative for a more breathable planet

GHGSat – A novel initiative for a more breathable planet

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Greenhouse emissions are profoundly affecting the Mother Earth, leading to unwarranted climate changes that pose great danger to the planet. It is necessary to monitor these emissions and satellite imagery is playing a significant role in the scenario.

How satellite imagery can help

There are many advantages of using satellites for monitoring greenhouse gas emissions. Satellite monitoring offers higher precision at a lower cost than many conventional methods of monitoring greenhouse gases. While launching a satellite is not without costs, those costs are amortized over the lifecycle of the satellite. And once the satellite is in orbit, it can monitor any facility, worldwide, as frequently as every two weeks.

Ease of deployment is another advantage. We can measure any site in the world within a few days of a request, as many times as needed, with no deployment cost. The same method can be used for all sites, everywhere, for anyone.

satelliteGHGSat 

GHGSat is the world’s first private company to own and operate a satellite that can monitor and track greenhouse gas emissions from industrial facilities.

An excellent advantage of this satellite is that it does not require any on-site equipment. GHGSat monitors emissions from hundreds of kilometers up in the sky and only have the customer dispatch repair crews when needed.

GHGSat’s patented technology monitors with the highest accuracy available and at at a fraction of the cost of comparable alternatives from any site in the world, within days. Better data means better control, and ultimately reduction of GHG emissions. As of April 2018, GHGSat’s demonstration Satellite Claire has performed a staggering 2,500 observations of oil & gas facilities, power stations, coal mines, landfills, animal feedlots and natural sources.

Role of Government satellite data in advancing global development

Not an easy journey

Anything new is usually laced with challenges. Roadblocks are bound to occur, and the story of GHGSat is not so different. It was not an easy job to emerge as the first private satellite company to monitor greenhouse gas emissions. The main challenges were (i) advancing the state of the art in satellite remote sensing technology, (ii) securing sufficient funding to bring our services to market, and (iii) raising awareness with key customers that there is a new, more affordable way to detect greenhouse gas emissions from space.

As shared by Stephane Germain, President of GHGSat, “We overcame the technology challenge by developing and patenting the world’s first satellite system designed to monitor facility-scale emissions. For the funding, we secured over US$20M in funding from both government and private sources, including our most recent round led by OGCI Climate Investments, Schlumberger, Space Angels, and the Business Development Bank of Canada. Raising awareness is a continuing challenge for a small business selling services to the world, and recent funding is in part dedicated to growing our sales & marketing team.”

Government support at both the federal and provincial level has been invaluable to the company for getting off the ground. Several funding agencies have provided financial support. It has also received significant marketing support through trade missions, and recently, even the Ambassador for Climate Change, Patricia Fuller and her team has extended support.

More funds for more accomplishments

As proof of continued growth and interest from the industry, the company is receiving Series A2 funding for US$10M, bringing them up to a total of US$20M, which will help them launch the two new satellites planned for 2019 and develop AI to predict facility-level risks of methane emissions.

Germain says, “We will use the funds to accelerate the commercial deployment of our service and increase our capability and capacity. More specifically, we will use the funds to launch more satellites, improve our analytics, and grow the GHGSat team.”

satelliteWhat’s in the future?

GHGSat is collecting unique measurements of industrial GHG emissions around the world. It is developing machine learning algorithms to predict areas at high risk of emissions by ingesting its own GHG emissions dataset along with complementary satellite imagery and publicly-available data.

Using AI to digest information from a multitude of sources allows for a clearer picture of the likelihood that certain facilities or areas are to leak. When a location with a high likelihood has been established, more frequent, proactive monitoring can be done to ensure that if there is a leak, the potential impact is minimized.

GHGSat is actively working on incorporating AI for emissions detection and prediction. It is also making a big push in analytics. When asked about future plans, Germain shares, “We have at least a five-year head-start on any potential satellite competitors, and we intend to leverage our unique dataset with powerful analytics to sustain our market leadership.”

The company is also developing an aircraft sensor. Aircraft monitoring services will be offered as a complement to GHGSat satellite monitoring, for customers who are interested in paying a premium to detect smaller sources (because the aircraft flies closer to the source) at high-risk locations.

As demand grows, GHGSat will deploy additional satellites – ultimately resulting in a constellation of satellites to increase the frequency of the sites it can monitor. As Germain puts it, “We are also launching two more satellites (GHGSat-C1 and GHGSat-C2), leveraging everything we learned from our demonstration satellite Claire (GHGSat-D).”

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