Satellites and data are going to help us phase out fossil fuels. Here’s how

Satellites 2018 UNThis article is brought to you thanks to the strategic cooperation of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Matt Gray, Head of Power and Utilities, Carbon Tracker Initiative

Power and industry are responsible for around two-thirds of carbon emissions and half of energy demand, and yet we are frequently kept in the dark about how the facilities that make up these sectors operate. For instance, verified country-level data from the International Energy Agency (IEA) is delayed by up to three years – and outside the EU and US, data is often untimely, unreliable or publicly unavailable.

These data gaps prevent decision-makers from making informed decisions that would help ensure an orderly and timely transition to a low-carbon economy.

Fortunately, this could change dramatically thanks to a revolution happening in space. Every part of earth is now photographed in high-resolution every day. Moreover, satellite providers are offering numerous different sensor types, such as Copernicus’s Sentinel-5 Precursor, which was launched in 2017 and measures sulphuric dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, ozone and methane. This imagery offers a potentially powerful response to those governments and asset owners who are unwilling or unable to disclose timely and accurate data.

To help take advantage of this opportunity, the Carbon Tracker Initiative developed an innovative methodology to explore the extent to which satellite imagery and data science could be used to estimate the utilisation of coal-fired power plants.

Understanding plant utilisation is essential for an economic analysis of power generation assets. It is required to understand economic viability and relative competitiveness, which helps investors, policymakers and civil society develop plant retirement schedules and forecast asset-stranding. The current lack of transparency therefore has the potential to stifle the phase-out of coal-fired generation. We know that to meet the temperature goal set out in the Paris Agreement, one coal plant will need to close every day until 2040. Greater transparency will improve decision-makers’ ability to focus on the key questions: which plants, and when?

While there are barriers to understanding power and industrial facilities from space, satellite imagery coupled with data science will not only improve transparency in these industries, it could potentially upend existing information flows. For example, the accuracy of our model for predicting the utilisation of EU and US coal plants was 92% and 91%, respectively.

We applied our satellite imagery methodology and integrated the plant utilisation results into our climate scenario analysis for coal power in China. This analysis showed that 40% of coal plants in China could be loss-making in 2018.

Satellite imagery can give an accurate picture of coal plant performance when operators can't, or won't

Satellite imagery can give an accurate picture of coal plant performance when operators can’t, or won’t
Image: Carbon Tracker

To meet the temperature goal in the Paris Agreement in a timely and orderly manner, the timeliness and granularity of data from fossil-fuel assets needs to be dramatically improved. To date, satellite imagery has been largely overlooked in the power and industry sectors. This looks set to change as high-resolution daily coverage of satellite imagery becomes the new normal. This situation will give decision-makers access to data flows that were previously unimaginable.

the sting Milestones

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

UN chief pays tribute to the courage of DR Congo citizens, and the sacrifice of blue helmets

Low productivity jobs continue to drive employment growth

How can we build a workforce for our digital future?

Why the ocean holds the key to sustainable development

One day your doctor might prescribe healthy food and a museum visit – here’s why

7 ways to break the fast fashion habit – and save the planet

EU invests more than €100 million in new LIFE Programme projects to promote a green and climate-neutral Europe

EC v Samsung: A whole year to compile a case

Autumn 2019 Economic Forecast: A challenging road ahead

3 ways to nurture collaboration between universities and industry

Scotland in United Kingdom: It’s either the end or the beginning of the end

A 10-step plan to save our seas

After globalization what? Europe’s long, straining shake-up post Davos wreckage

What keeps me up at night? Two strategists reply

The Silent Pandemic: The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health

5G networks: to slice or not to slice?

Migration Crisis: how to open the borders and make way for the uprooted

Stop wars disguised as peace missions

Ship Recycling is the Commission’s Titanic

Madagascar: UN Secretary-General reaffirms support for electoral process

Glasgow and Edinburgh race to become the UK’s first net-zero emissions city

Asking for more restriction on intra EU immigration: Unproductive and politically dangerous

3 tech design principles to help curb digital repression

Is your business model fit for the Fourth Industrial Revolution?

Plastic waste from Western countries is poisoning Indonesia

Why Europe is more competitive than the US

Commission reports on progress made by Albania and North Macedonia

Is Data Privacy really safe seen through Commissioner’s PRISM?

How can entrepreneurship tackle the migration crisis in the EU?

EU consumer rules: Airbnb cooperates with European Commission and EU consumer authorities improving the way it presents offers

5 of the world’s deadliest infectious diseases

The Banking Union divides deeply the European Union

3 reasons why responsibly-deployed technology is key to the COVID recovery

5 ways to make your organization a great sustainability partner

Soccer is back with strict COVID-19 rules. Here’s what you need to know

6 young leaders who are improving the state of the world on International Youth Day

Death as a Global Public Health Issue

Nearly half a billion people can’t find decent work; unemployment set to rise: new UN labour report

The road ahead to building a more sustainable world

These Indian fishermen take plastic out of the sea and use it to build roads

Somalia: UN congratulates Puntland region’s newly-elected President

The importance of Yellow September and suicide prevention in Brazil

EU announces €25 million for education in crisis contexts and €140 million to support research in sustainable food systems

Draghi tells the Parliament the ECB to use all its weaponry; euro slides to parity with the dollar

Financial support for workers affected by no-deal Brexit

Youth Internationalization: part of everyday life in JADE

Planes can now fly for 21 hours non-stop. But are people ready?

ECB readies itself for extraordinary monetary measures defying Germany

State aid: Commission approves €1 billion Cypriot scheme to support enterprises and self-employed individuals in context of coronavirus outbreak

Europe divided: 30 years on from the fall of the Berlin Wall

3 things to know about India’s space programme

European Youth Event 2020: giving a voice to young people to influence EU policy

Fairer and clearer rules on social benefits for EU mobile workers agreed

Gender Equality in Medicine: are we now so different from the Middle Ages?

COP21 Breaking News_12 December: The New Draft Agreement!

Common charger: a long-awaited proposal requested by Parliament

Kosovo elections: ‘Most significant change’ in 12 years, Security Council hears

International community urged to deliver on promise for better future for Bosnia and Herzegovina

EU decides “in absentia” of civil society

Europe’s far-right launches attacks on neighboring nations

More Stings?

Trackbacks

  1. […] que la toma de decisiones de políticas bajas en carbono no sea todo lo precisa que pudiera ser», afirma Matt Gray, director de Energía y Servicios Públicos de Carbon Tracker, un think tank que analiza […]

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: