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New satellite pinpoints industrial methane emissions

Press Release 29 Jul - 18:33 SAST

New satellite pinpoints industrial methane emissions

Press Release 29 Jul - 18:33 SAST

Information from ESA

GHGSat’s demonstration satellite (“Claire”), aided by ESA’s Sentinel 5P, has now collected more than 60 000 methane measurements of industrial facilities around the world.

Methane may not be as abundant in the atmosphere as carbon dioxide, but with a global warming potential many times greater than carbon dioxide, monitoring and controlling industrial emissions of this gas is imperative to helping combat climate change.

Sentinel-5P maps a range of atmospheric gases around the globe every 24 hours. Its Tropomi spectrometer delivers data with a resolution as high as 7 km × 5.5 km for methane, but this data can’t be used to pinpoint specific facilities responsible for emissions. However, GHGSat’s Claire satellite can.

Drawing on Sentinel-5P data, GHGSat tasks Claire to home in on methane sources. Using this approach, the company has been able to attribute large methane leaks to specific industrial facilities. This is drawing the attention of managers responsible for emissions from industries such as oil and gas, waste management, mining, agriculture and power generation.

“Copernicus Sentinel-5P and Claire working together is a prime example of institutional satellites working hand-in-hand with commercial satellites, a concept that is taking Earth observation into a new era,” said ESA’s director of Earth Observation Programmes, Josef Aschbacher.

GHGSat plans to have a constellation of 10 satellites operating by 2022. Its next satellite, Iris, will offer a spatial resolution of 25 m compared to Claire’s 50 m resolution, allowing methane to be traced even more accurately. The company also offers methane analytics and reporting for asset managers and others responsible for environmental, social and corporate governance such as understanding investment risk.