A significant proportion of methane emissions comes from fossil fuel operations, but identifying specific sources is challenging. Studies show that a small number of high emitting leaks are responsible for the bulk of emissions, yet finding them is often expensive, logistically challenging, labour intensive, and inaccurate. Current methods to monitor oil sand mining, for example, have a degree of uncertainty of 50% or more. To effectively deal with emissions, we need to know where they are.
GHGSat has developed a satellite specifically designed to look for and monitor facility-level emissions. Launching the first demonstration satellite in 2016 and a second, commercial satellite in 2020, it uses a Fabry-Perot imaging spectrometer to measure methane concentrations at any point on earth every other day. These periodic surveys identify super-emitters at a low cost without the need for on-site equipment.
Aggregating data from its own and third-party satellites and other sources, GHGSat offers a range of commercial services including high-resolution imagery from space and aircraft, leak risk assessment, hotspot detection, and predictive analysis. To raise awareness of methane with the broader public, the company released a free online tool that shows monthly averaged methane concentrations in the atmosphere on a grid 2km x 2km over land worldwide.
In February 2021, a new high-resolution GHGSat satellite captured images of a 52 square kilometre area of central Turkmenistan where eight leaks were emitting around 10 tonnes of methane an hour – an hourly warming equivalent of driving 250,000 cars. Analysis of the image revealed that half of the emissions from the gas field were likely to be coming from leaky valves on natural gas pipelines, and the other half from flares.
When GHGSat found and reported a similar Central Asian leak in 2019, the resulting fix was equivalent to taking one million cars off the road a year.
GHGSat aims to launch its third satellite in January 2021, and a further 8 by end of 2022. Improved data availability will help super-emitters mitigate their emissions and provide global policy makers with a better understanding of the problem.
Climate Investments case studies
Learn how our investments are helping to reduce methane and carbon dioxide emissions and can recycle or store carbon dioxide.
GHGSat – Global methane detection at facility level
Methane is a potent, but odourless and colourless greenhouse gas, a combination that makes detecting leaks both very important and very hard.
Solidia: Carbon eating concrete that lowers emissions from the production phase
By changing the chemistry of cement, Solidia has made concrete that outperforms traditional concrete, costs less, cures faster and has a 70% lower carbon footprint
SeekOps – Drone-based monitoring of methane emissions
Scalable methane detection techniques for on and offshore environments, that have shown results over five times more efficient than existing methods
75F – Over 20% energy efficiency gains in a HOM showroom
Air temperature controls and smart sensors that self-optimize to make buildings more energy efficient, saving money and lowering emissions
Norsepower – Harnessing wind power to clean up modern shipping
Large mechanical sails installed on the Maersk Pelican tanker record annual saving equivalent to approximately 1,400 tonnes of carbon dioxide.
The evolution of Net Zero Teesside
Getting a CCUS hub off the ground requires a commercial concept, funding, policies and regulations, community support, subsurface expertise and lots of patient work.