Energy & Raw Materials

This industry covers the exploration, extraction, processing, and distribution of energy sources and raw materials. It includes the oil and gas sector, renewable energy, mining, and the production of materials like metals and minerals. The industry is a cornerstone of the global economy, powering industries, transport, and homes. It’s undergoing a significant transformation with a growing focus on sustainable and renewable energy sources due to environmental concerns and climate change. The sector is also characterized by its cyclical nature, with prices and investment heavily influenced by global economic conditions.

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Table of Contents

  • Renewable Energy Transition: Shift towards solar, wind, and other renewable energy sources.
  • Sustainable Mining Practices: Implementation of environmentally friendly mining techniques.
  • Energy Storage Technologies: Advancements in battery technology and other storage solutions.

  • Environmental Impact: Managing the ecological footprint of energy production and raw material extraction.
  • Market Volatility: Navigating fluctuating prices and demand for energy and materials.
  • Regulatory Compliance: Adhering to increasingly stringent environmental regulations.

EO for Energy & Raw Materials

Earth Observation technologies have become integral in transforming how the energy and raw materials sectors operate, offering vast improvements in efficiency, safety, and sustainability.

Exploration and Resource Identification

Hydrocarbon Exploration: EO technologies facilitate the detection and monitoring of hydrocarbon resources by analyzing spectral data that indicate the presence of hydrocarbons. This process involves using remote sensing techniques to identify specific geological features, such as rock types and soil moisture content, which are indicative of oil and gas reserves. The benefit of this approach is a more targeted exploration strategy, reducing the environmental impact and costs associated with drilling exploratory wells. Additionally, EO can track changes over time, providing ongoing insights into the potential size and extraction viability of these resources.


Mineral Exploration: Satellite imagery and hyperspectral data are invaluable for identifying mineral deposits in remote or otherwise inaccessible areas. By analyzing the reflected light from the Earth’s surface across various spectral bands, EO technologies can detect specific mineral signatures, guiding exploration efforts more efficiently. This capability significantly reduces the time and resources required for ground-based surveys, offering a cost-effective solution for identifying viable mining sites. Moreover, it enables continuous monitoring of environmental conditions, assisting in compliance with regulatory standards and sustainable mining practices.


Predictive Analytics for Resource Management: Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms on EO datasets opens new avenues for predictive analytics in resource management. This involves using machine learning models to analyze historical and real-time EO data to predict future trends in resource availability, environmental conditions, and energy demand. Such predictive insights can assist in strategic planning, investment decisions, and operational adjustments to optimize resource extraction and energy production.


Environmental Monitoring and Compliance

Environmental Impact Assessments: EO technologies play a critical role in conducting environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for energy projects and mining operations. Satellite data can provide historical and current images of the project area, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of the environmental baseline and ongoing impacts. This includes monitoring changes in land use, vegetation cover, and water bodies, as well as identifying potential pollution sources. The benefits include ensuring compliance with environmental regulations, minimizing ecological disruption, and facilitating the restoration of mining sites post-extraction. In some cases, EO-based products could also include the production of environmental impact assessment “certificates”.


Emissions Monitoring and Carbon Accounting: Satellites equipped with EO technologies can detect and quantify greenhouse gas emissions from energy production sites and raw material extraction operations. This use case involves analyzing atmospheric data to identify and measure emissions of carbon dioxide, methane, and other greenhouse gases. The advantage of this approach is its ability to provide accurate, transparent, and timely emissions data, supporting compliance with environmental regulations and carbon trading schemes. It also aids companies in managing their carbon footprint and advancing toward sustainability goals.


Infrastructure and Operations Monitoring

Pipeline and Infrastructure Surveillance: EO technologies offer a solution for monitoring pipelines and other critical infrastructure across vast and often remote areas. Satellite imagery can detect unauthorized construction activities, land subsidence, and vegetation changes that might indicate potential risks to pipeline integrity. This continuous monitoring capability enables prompt response to potential threats, minimizing the risk of leaks or other disruptions. The benefits include enhanced safety, reduced operational risks, and lower costs associated with physical inspections.


Energy Network conditions monitoring: The situational awareness and monitoring capabilities of EO contribute through application such as monitoring the structural integrity of assets including towers, poles, wind plants and solar plants, monitoring land subsidence around energy infrastructure such as pipelines and plants, assessment of vegetation encroachments, and allowing for asset condition management damages, degradation, corrosion, etc.


Illegal Mining Monitoring: Detecting and monitoring illegal mining activities through landscape change detection, highlighting EO’s capability in enforcing regulatory compliance and protecting environmental integrity.


Renewable Energy Site Assessment: For the renewable energy sector, EO technologies are instrumental in identifying optimal sites for solar and wind energy projects. This involves analyzing data on solar irradiance, wind patterns, land use, and environmental constraints to determine the most suitable locations for development. EO technologies help maximize energy production efficiency and sustainability. Additionally, ongoing monitoring supports operational optimization and maintenance planning, ensuring long-term project viability.


Smart Grid Management: Leveraging EO data, energy companies can enhance smart grid management by forecasting power generation from renewable sources. Satellite imagery and weather data contribute to accurate predictions of solar and wind energy production, allowing for better integration of renewable energy into the grid. This use case promotes a more resilient and efficient energy system, facilitating the transition to renewable energy sources and supporting efforts to combat climate change.


Infrastructure and Service Planning

Supply chain insights: EO data support market analysts, traders, investors, energy operators and regulators, governments, international banking institutions and ultimately, citizens, to better understand the new energy dynamics shifting under the pressure of climate change. AI and advanced analytics are applied to EO for applications such as reservoir monitoring, heavy oil production mapping, underground gas storage, sophisticated methane-detection technologies, etc.


Energy Site Selection: For the renewable energy sector, EO technologies are instrumental in identifying optimal sites for solar and wind energy projects. This involves the analysis of historical data for example, wind, solar irradiation, ocean currents, ocean temperature (e.g. for OTEC or SWAC), snow cover, and environmental constraints to determine the most suitable locations for development. This includes, for instance, solar plant production estimates based on solar irradiation forecasts or hydropower production estimates based on snow cover smelting. Additionally, ongoing monitoring supports operational optimization and maintenance planning, ensuring long-term project viability.


Risk assessment for renewable energy assets: Energy assets are exposed to a variety of natural risks which can put in danger the people working on site, damage equipment or negatively impact production. EO can contribute to the assessment of the level of risk to prevent/mitigate the effects of adverse events on the exploitation of energy (including the protection of workers maintaining offshore wind platforms for instance). Relevant EO-based products and services include the monitoring of dangerous sub-surface currents, iceberg detection and tracking, etc.

GNSS for Energy & Raw Materials

By providing accurate positioning, navigation, and timing services, GNSS not only enhances operational efficiency and safety but also plays a key role in protecting the environment and supporting sustainable industry practices.

Exploration and Site Development

Precise Location Mapping: GNSS technologies enable accurate mapping of exploration sites and potential resource deposits. This precision is crucial for minimizing environmental impact by focusing exploration activities on areas with a high likelihood of resource presence, reducing the need for extensive physical exploration and associated ecological disturbance.


Environmental Surveying and Impact Assessments: Before the development of new sites, GNSS assists in conducting detailed environmental surveys and impact assessments. The accurate geolocation data provided by GNSS supports the creation of high-resolution maps used for assessing the potential environmental impact of proposed projects, ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and minimizing ecological footprints.


Renewable Energy Alignment and Construction: In the construction of solar farms and wind turbines, GNSS data is used for precise alignment and placement, ensuring that installations are optimally positioned for maximum energy production. This precision is critical for the efficient setup and long-term performance of renewable energy projects.


Asset Management and Operations

Infrastructure Monitoring: In the context of large-scale energy production or raw material extraction operations, GNSS technologies are used to monitor the structural health and stability of critical infrastructure. This includes the surveillance of pipelines, drilling platforms, and mining infrastructure to detect shifts, subsidence, or other potential hazards that could lead to structural failure or environmental incidents.


Fleet Management and Logistics: GNSS is integral to the efficient management of fleets involved in the transportation of raw materials or the maintenance of energy infrastructure. Real-time positioning data allows for optimized routing, scheduling, and deployment of vehicles and equipment, reducing fuel consumption, enhancing operational efficiency, and lowering emissions.


Phasor Measurement Units (PMU): GNSS provides accurate timing and synchronisation for PMUs, which are deployed across remote locations of the power network (nodes), improving the reliability of power systems.


Autonomous Vehicles in Mining and Exploration: GNSS technology is critical for the operation of autonomous vehicles in mining and exploration activities. These vehicles rely on GNSS for navigation and positioning within the operational site, enhancing safety by reducing the need for human presence in hazardous areas and improving efficiency through precise, automated operations.


Underground Navigation Systems for Mining: GNSS-based technologies are being developed to extend PNT services underground, where traditional GNSS signals cannot penetrate. This involves the use of augmented systems that relay GNSS data to underground receivers, enhancing safety and operational efficiency in underground mining operations.


Environmental Protection and Sustainability

Erosion and Land Degradation Monitoring: For projects impacting large land areas, GNSS can help monitor changes in topography, identifying erosion or land degradation. This information is vital for implementing corrective measures and ensuring land rehabilitation post-extraction, contributing to sustainable land management practices.


Wildlife and Habitat Conservation: In energy and raw materials projects situated in or near sensitive ecological zones, GNSS technologies support wildlife tracking and habitat conservation efforts. By mapping animal movements and habitat use patterns, project impacts can be minimized, and conservation strategies can be more effectively implemented.

SatCom for Energy & Raw Materials

By leveraging SatCom technology, the energy & raw materials industries can enhance operational efficiency, improve worker safety, comply with environmental regulations, and support the transition towards more sustainable energy and material extraction practices.

Remote Operations and Management

Real-time Data Transmission from Remote Sites: For energy extraction sites and raw material operations located in remote areas, SatCom enables the real-time transmission of operational data to central offices. This connectivity ensures that decision-makers have up-to-the-minute information on production levels, equipment status, and environmental conditions, facilitating informed decisions to enhance efficiency and safety.


  • Remote Monitoring and Control of Infrastructure: SatCom technologies allow for the remote monitoring and control of critical infrastructure such as pipelines, offshore platforms, and mining operations. Operators can adjust settings, shut down operations, or deploy emergency measures from a distance, significantly reducing response times to potential hazards or operational anomalies.


  • Support for Renewable Energy Grids: As renewable energy sources become increasingly important, SatCom can play a key role in monitoring and managing distributed energy grids. Satellite communications can ensure that data from solar arrays, wind farms, and other renewable sources are integrated into the energy grid efficiently, optimizing energy distribution and supporting the transition to greener energy sources.


  • Advanced Remote Exploration Technologies: SatCom supports the deployment of advanced exploration technologies, such as deep-earth sensing and high-resolution imaging drones, in search of new energy sources and raw materials. These technologies require robust communication links to transmit data back to researchers and engineers for analysis, enabling the discovery of previously inaccessible resources.


Integration with IoT for Smart Operations: Integrating SatCom with the Internet of Things (IoT) technologies enables the development of “smart” energy and raw materials operations. Sensors and devices across extraction sites and infrastructure can communicate data on performance, maintenance needs, and environmental conditions, leading to highly efficient, automated operations that can adapt to changing conditions in real-time.


Safety and Emergency Response

Emergency Communications: In the event of an emergency, such as an oil spill, gas leak, or mining accident, SatCom provides a reliable communication link when terrestrial networks might be unavailable or damaged. This ensures that rescue and response teams can coordinate their efforts effectively, potentially saving lives and minimizing environmental impact.


Worker Safety in Isolated Locations: For workers in remote or isolated energy and raw materials extraction sites, SatCom devices offer a vital safety lifeline. Through devices like personal locator beacons and satellite phones, workers can call for help or receive evacuation orders, ensuring their safety in the face of natural disasters or operational emergencies.


Environmental Monitoring and Compliance

Satellite-based Environmental Impact Assessments: SatCom facilitates the transmission of environmental data from remote sensors and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to central monitoring stations. This data, which can include information on air and water quality, wildlife movements, and vegetation health, is critical for conducting comprehensive environmental impact assessments and ensuring compliance with environmental regulations.


Climate Monitoring and Carbon Management: Through the use of SatCom, data collected on greenhouse gas emissions, deforestation, and other environmental indicators can be transmitted in real-time from remote areas. This information is crucial for global climate monitoring efforts and for industries to manage their carbon footprints more effectively.

Innovative Applications

Space-based Materials Research for Energy Applications: Conducting materials science experiments in microgravity conditions aboard space stations can lead to the development of new materials with enhanced properties for energy storage and conversion. For example, better battery technologies for renewable energy storage systems can be developed through understanding material behaviours in space, leading to more efficient energy storage solutions on Earth.


Improved Solar Panel Materials: Research in space can also contribute to the development of more efficient solar panel materials, taking advantage of the unique conditions of space to understand how materials perform under constant solar radiation without atmospheric interference. This can lead to the creation of solar panels with higher efficiency rates for use in solar farms on Earth.


Wireless Energy Transmission: An innovative concept that has been explored is the collection of solar power in space using photovoltaic arrays and transmitting this energy wirelessly to Earth via microwave or laser. Space-based solar power stations could potentially provide a constant and efficient energy source, unaffected by the Earth’s day/night cycle, weather conditions, or atmospheric absorption.


Extraction of Precious Metals and Rare Earth Elements: The concept of asteroid mining involves sending spacecraft to mine asteroids for precious metals (such as platinum and gold) and rare earth elements that are scarce on Earth but abundant in space. These materials are crucial for electronics, renewable energy technologies, and other high-tech applications, potentially revolutionizing the raw materials sector.

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