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How To Reduce Methane Emissions Using Satellite Monitoring

Success in the struggle to address climate change and avert irreparable harm to people, ecosystems and livelihoods is taking targeted action. Bringing down methane is one key way to do this. Though less prevalent than carbon dioxide (CO₂), its impact on global warming is extremely high, especially in the short term. Thanks to advances in climate technology, we have the means to track methane emissions with a precision that was once unimaginable. And reliable information is the foundation of effective action.

At the forefront of innovation in climate tech is Kayrros Methane Watch, a game-changing platform designed for methane emissions monitoring. This article explores how Kayross Methane Watch is reshaping our efforts to mitigate climate change and turn the tide in our favor with the power of advanced technology.

First, What is Methane?   

Methane (CH₄) is a colorless and odorless gas found in the Earth’s atmosphere. Its presence there is the result of both natural processes and human activity. Natural sources include emissions from wetlands, volcanic eruptions, and the activity of organisms like termites. However, human activities, such as agriculture and biomass burning, have significantly increased methane concentrations.

What is Methane Used for?

Methane is commonly used in many industries because it has commercial advantages. The most relevant of these is its high energy content, which ensures that a small amount of methane can produce a substantial amount of energy when burned. This is especially valuable in power generation and industrial heating, where copious energy output is vital.

This gas is also in ample supply, not only in regions with active oil extraction, where it is often co-produced, but also in areas with standalone natural gas fields. These fields can be found in many regions around the world, contributing to methane’s widespread availability. In addition, the infrastructure for extracting, processing, and transporting methane is also well-established, so it’s a convenient choice for many industries.

How Does Methane Impact the Environment?

It is precisely because of the remarkable heat-trapping efficiency of methane that it is such a devastating contributor to climate change. Over a 20-year period, it is thought to be 84 times more potent than CO₂ in respect of its impact on global warming. This makes methane a particularly concerning greenhouse gas, even though it only stays in the atmosphere for 7 to 12 years. CO₂, in contrast, remains for centuries.

The more methane there is in the atmosphere, the higher global temperatures are pushed. This rapid warming is a major cause of frequent and extreme weather events, such as droughts, hurricanes, and wildfires, all of which have a massive impact on human lives, property, and infrastructure.

Global warming also contributes to a rise in sea levels by melting polar ice caps and glaciers, putting coastal communities in grave danger through flooding, erosion, and saltwater intrusion.

These are only the human consequences. But humans cannot be divorced from the natural world of which they are a part. Disrupted ecosystems are another serious consequence of any rise in global warming. Some animals struggle to adapt to sudden changes to the climate. Habitats are irreversibly changed. Some species are brought to the point of extinction, breaking apart food chains and depleting resources on which human communities rely.

What is highly concerning is that the thawing of permafrost in Arctic regions releases carbon dioxide and more methane emissions. These heat up the atmosphere further, and so the damage caused by the initial rise accelerates and intensifies.

How Do We Significantly Reduce Methane Emissions?

Mitigating methane emissions depends on detecting them with accuracy in the first place. Understanding the scale of this issue, and the wider context, is crucial. In the energy sector, in particular, the amount of methane lost from individual oil and gas fields might appear small: here, measurements are typically less than 500 kilograms per hour or about 0.65 million cubic feet per day. But when we consider that an overwhelming 96% of oil and gas fields emit at this level, we see what we are really dealing with.

The problem of dispersion

Complicating matters further is the fact that these emissions are often spread across various production facilities within each field. This dispersion makes it tricky to measure and quantify emissions accurately, as they aren’t concentrated in one spot. This fact about methane emissions poses a considerable challenge to our efforts to monitor and control them.

The super-emitter factor

Among the diverse sources of methane emissions, “super-emitters” demand specific attention. These release methane at exceptionally high rates, typically more than 22 pounds (10 kilograms) per hour. NASA’s identification of these super-emitters highlights the major part they play in the global methane problem. Large-scale livestock farms, poorly managed landfills, and the production and transportation of fossil fuels like oil, gas, and coal make up “the big three” among the super-emitters. The energy sector alone is responsible for 30% of global methane emissions, stemming from leaks, equipment malfunctions, and flaring.

The strategic mitigation of methane emissions: The role of Kayrros at COP28  

Confronting methane emissions is both urgent and essential for curbing near-term temperature rises. Undoubtedly, this is a formidable task. The persistent rise in global emissions demonstrates the magnitude of the challenge we face.

Therefore, a comprehensive approach is essential for effectively tackling the issue of methane emissions. Using advanced satellite monitoring technologies and AI, and strategically targeting super-emitters, are pivotal steps in this endeavor. This is why we at Kayrros, as leading experts in environmental monitoring and climate policy, have been invited to join French President Emmanuel Macron at COP28, the upcoming global climate conference.

COP28, which convenes in the UAE in November 2023, is the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The assembly brings together world leaders, experts, and organizations to set the stage for ambitious climate action.

We at Kayrros will share the insights we have gained thanks to our work. And we will continue to take the firm stance we have been taking on methane, championing the ban of super-emitters. This would be a critical move in reducing greenhouse gasses on a wide scale. Key to achieving this is Kayrros Methane Watch.

What is Kayrros Methane Watch? 

Kayrros Methane Watch monitors methane super-emitters with unprecedented and unrivaled precision. It harnesses the latest satellite data and proprietary algorithms to deliver near-realtime insights on methane emissions, streamlining the implementation of regulatory measures and enhancing GHG oversight.

It involves careful and close analyses of imagery drawn from the Copernicus network of satellites, which are overseen by the European Space Agency. This greatly enhances the accuracy and reach of methane emissions monitoring.

What Are Its Benefits and Features?

Armed with relevant data from high-resolution methane emissions monitoring, oil and gas operators can swiftly identify and quantify methane leaks, directly attributing emissions to specific sites. This reduces the need for costly field inspections, resulting in a more efficient management of environmental risks and asset integrity. 

Regulators, on the other hand, get a detailed emissions dataset. By leveraging near-realtime data, they can more effectively oversee compliance and fine-tune policies that balance industry practices with environmental objectives. Additionally, they can better uphold the integrity of emissions reporting on a regional and national scale. 

Some of Methane Watch’s powerful features include:

 

1. Super-emitters detection

This feature uses three different satellites to detect and quantify methane super-emitters in near-realtime with an average two-day delay. A short lag time is essential for timely responses to consequential methane emission events, enabling quicker interventions and policy actions.

2. Precision monitoring

High-resolution imagery allows for the monitoring of specific facilities and the attribution of emission events to specific operators.

3. Total regional emissions

The platform provides access to total regional emissions data over oil, gas, and coal basins worldwide.

4. Customer Service

Users can connect with Kayrros data scientists for advanced analytics and information, including methane inventories. This means that expert assistance in interpreting and acting on the data provided is easily within reach for maximizing their operations and compliance efforts.

What Are Its Deliverables?

Kayrros Methane Watch offers several exceptionally engineered tools to provide valuable insights and data for effective analysis and problem-solving. 

1. Methane emissions map 

This map presents a visual representation of methane super-emitter events, particularly from oil and gas operators. It includes location information, emission rates, dates, and other relevant data. Additionally, this can be downloaded for in-depth analysis, aiding policymakers and researchers in decision-making.

2. Dashboards

Satellite images and contextual information are accessible through the Kayrros platform. These dashboards offer a user-friendly interface to view and analyze emissions data, making it easier to identify trends and areas of concern.

3. REST API

Kayrros offers access to its data via REST or Python APIs, which integrates Methane Watch data into other systems and applications. This facilitates custom analyses and the development of automated reporting tools. 

Harnessing Breakthrough Innovation to Combat Methane Emissions

As the fight against climate change intensifies, Kayrros Methane Watch stands out as a critical tool. It is an advanced solution that has already ushered in a new era of environmental vigilance, allowing for the rapid detection and analysis of methane emissions through sophisticated satellite technology. By providing oil and gas operators with the means to monitor emissions effectively, Kayrros streamlines compliance and empowers proactive environmental stewardship. For regulators, Methane Watch ensures that policy and practice work hand in hand to achieve a greener future.

Discover how Kayrros Methane Watch can revolutionize your approach to methane management.

Take the first step towards a sustainable future.

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