Duke Energy today announced it is working with Accenture and Microsoft on the development of a new technology platform designed to measure actual baseline methane emissions from natural gas distribution systems. This platform will provide near-real-time data collection, allowing Duke Energy’s field response teams to more rapidly identify and repair methane leaks.
The cloud-hosted platform will track and prioritize data associated with leaks using advanced detection methods such as satellites, fixed-wing aircraft and ground-level sensing technology. The new sensor technology can detect trace levels of methane emissions that current technology may not identify. The new platform will augment the company’s drive toward net-zero methane emissions in its natural gas business by 2030.
As a part of this effort, the companies will execute monthly satellite captures in Greenville, SC, beginning in August to further refine the technology for identifying methane leaks on Duke Energy’s pipeline system. Duke Energy anticipates implementing its methane-monitoring platform by October 2021.
The company began testing satellites for detecting leaks on its natural gas system in 2020, when it found satellite detection has the potential to be more accurate and an expedient way to locate leaks when compared to traditional leak survey methods such as aerial and foot patrols.
To help design the Microsoft Azure-based platform to handle a high volume of data from a variety of sources, Accenture – in collaboration with Avanade, its joint venture with Microsoft – will apply its experience in analytics, artificial intelligence and cloud computing. These technologies will help drive the insights from the platform for improving operations and delivering on the methane emissions goal.
Methane makes up nearly 10% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions every year, according to recent estimates from the Environmental Protection Agency, with the energy sector being one of the largest sources of US methane emissions.