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Advancing Methane Monitoring: The Role of Earth Observation in Reducing Emissions

As the European Union places greater emphasis on reducing methane emissions and considers proposals for substantial reductions in the energy sector, the Methane Monitoring Working Group at EARSC (The European Association of Remote Sensing Companies) is actively contributing to the industry’s efforts to achieve the targets.

This blog article provides an overview of their progress and highlights the importance of Earth Observation (EO) data and analytics in monitoring, verification, and reporting. However, the question remains: Will the regulations be future-proof, will they allow for the inclusion of EO, and is there a technology to meet the sector’s stakeholders’ needs?

Lucy Kennedy, CEO and co-founder of Spottitt and Co-Chair of the Methane Monitoring Working Group at EARSC, recently served as the moderator for the session on ‘Collaborative Approaches to Methane Monitoring.’ The panel discussion featured a diverse group of industry experts who covered the entire value chain.

The following summary highlights the valuable contributions and insights shared during the discussion.

Methane Detection and Reporting Levels

Tanya Meixus Fernandes, OGMP 2.0 senior advisor at UNEP, opened the discussion by introducing the Methane Alert and Response System (MARS). MARS comprises four components: Methane detection and attribution, Alerting relevant parties, facilitating a Response, and establishing a System for collaboration, improvement, and learning within the industry.

Focusing on the first component, methane detection and attribution, Fernandes explained the use of global mapping satellites to identify and verify large methane plumes and hotspots. Further analysis utilizes satellite missions with high resolution, specifically designed to detect and attribute these emissions to specific sources.

She also highlighted the reporting levels within the OGMP, ranging from limited information based on emission factors to measurements-based reporting. It is clear that satellites have the potential to revolutionize methane emissions reduction. Some industry members are already collaborating closely with satellite operators, integrating satellite data with ground-based and operational measurements to reconcile all sources of information.

Key Considerations for Effective Implementation

Axel Scheuer, head of energy and climate policy at the International Association of Oil & Gas Producers, expressed support for the development and establishment of EU regulations on methane. While Europe has been successful in mitigating anthropogenic methane emissions, with less than 1% coming from the oil and gas upstream sector, the industry acknowledges the importance of regulations to address technical details. Provisions and measures must be proportionate, efficient, and implementable to achieve the desired environmental impact.

Technology Testing and Data Validation

Maximilian Beck, Senior Policy Advisor at Uniper, shared that his company applies various technologies to prevent methane emissions, both fugitive and operational through a combination of short-term and long-term detection measures. Uniper is currently in the testing phase with satellite observation methods, exploring the integration of site-level management measurements with Earth Observation data. Validation is crucial, and Uniper welcomes the EU methane regulation to enhance data availability and external validation.

Challenges for Distribution Systems

Alessandro Morgagni, who is in charge of supervision and coordination of energy policies and relations with standardisation bodies at Inrete Distribution Energy – Hera Group, expressed strong support for action against climate change and the adoption of EU regulations. However, concerns were raised about certain aspects of the regulation. Different gas value chain segments, such as distribution system infrastructure, upstream, and midstream, face distinct challenges. For example, inspecting the above-ground installations in private properties, like service lines, would require the presence of property owners, making frequent inspections difficult. 

Please watch the full session recording for more discussion insights and to hear the results obtained from testing various aerial monitoring technologies like drones, planes, and satellites, by Inrete. 

Lucy Kennedy
Lucy Kennedy

Spottitt CEO and FIRE EO Evangelist for Infrastructure

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Lucy Kennedy, the CEO and co-founder of Spottitt and Co-Chair of the Methane Monitoring Working Group at EARSC, recently moderated the session on ‘Collaborative Approaches to Methane Monitoring’.

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