First Commercial Satellite Sensor Tracks Carbon Dioxide at Industrial Sites

World’s First Commercial CO2 Sensor in Orbit

(Credit: GHGSat)

by | Nov 13, 2023

GHGStat has launched the first satellite that will be able to pinpoint carbon dioxide emissions from specific industrial sites.

The carbon sensor, known as Vanguard, can “hone in” on individual targets and attribute emissions — something public CO2 satellites already in orbit cannot do. 

The initiative will also give operators of steel mills, power plants, and petrochemical complexes access to independent, accurate, and standardized emissions monitoring and data. The satellite offers independent verification of its own continuous emissions monitoring systems that may be in place.

GHGStat, an emissions monitoring company based in Canada, also stated the sensor and its data will help with accurate environment, social and governance (ESG) reporting, which has become increasingly important.

ESG reporting is at the front of mind for many executives, but one recent survey from KPMG found just 25% of companies are prepared for ESG reporting. The survey findings were on the heels of news that the International Sustainability Standards Board (ISSB) issued its first-ever standards related to sustainability disclosures by companies. The standards are likely to be adopted globally and companies will have to meet ESG reporting requirements soon.

GHGStat intends for its latest satellite to be a precursor to more space instruments that build on the company’s history of monitoring methane emissions. The company launched its pioneer demonstrator satellite, Claire, in 2016. With high-resolution technology with the ability to image down to 25 meters on the ground, the satellite expanded the understanding of man-made methane emissions.

“Our high-resolution satellites helped put methane — a greenhouse gas that was out of sight and out of mind––at the top of the climate agenda,” Stephane Germain, CEO at GHGSat, said in a statement. “Now our goal is to harness this experience and change the conversation around CO2. With regulators, investors and the public increasingly holding companies to account, for both their direct and indirect emissions, there is little doubt that better CO2 data is needed. Trusted, independent data will help incentivize industry to manage its emissions effectively.”

GHGStat currently makes more than 2 million facility measurements per year, both on and offshore. It has nine satellites, and also provides data to NASA, ESA, and the United Nations. The company launched Vanguard at the Vandenberg Space Force Base in California via SpaceX rocket.

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