The call “Sustainable Digitally Connected Solutions for the Commodities Crisis” targets the development of studies to analyse the technical feasibility and economic viability of sustainable applications and services, addressing commodities’ sectors challenges in the short time frame, i.e., two years, and mid-term by integrating satellite communications and other space assets with terrestrial and digital technologies.
Latest geopolitical events, in addition to the large humanitarian catastrophe, have caused an unprecedented crisis across all commodities market characterised by a disruption of the supply chain with prices of commodities such as energy and food increasing to the fastest pace in over half a century threatening the fragile post-pandemic recovery of the global economy.
Besides the energy market, whose prices are skyrocketing, the commodity sector has important linkages with many other sectors: as the supplier of raw materials to domestic industries; as the supplier of food to the distribution network; as the purchaser of inputs and of consumer goods from domestic industries; and as the provider of foreign exchange for the purchase of abroad goods and services for consumption and investment.
Within this crisis, there is a risk of governments, policymakers, and producers resorting to non-sustainable strategies (e.g., increasing the use of fossil fuels) to react to supply shocks. These short-term reactive measures can result into major implications for the global climate agenda, creating long-lasting fossil fuel dependences.
KEY FOCUS AREAS
The commodities affected by the crisis and addressed in this call include energy, all crude and processed products of agriculture and food, and the general supply chain.
In the short term, in order to ensure the security of energy supply, efforts need be undertaken to accelerate the deployment of green energy solutions in both urban and industrial settings. Short-term green energy solutions may include solar power generation for households, as well as renewable energy generation for large industrial plants, and solutions for monitoring off-grid energy plants. Furthermore, an increased demand for new tools to improve energy efficiency of infrastructures, buildings, and cities is to be expected, along with services for municipalities and local governments to identify and prioritise potential geographic areas requiring and forecast return of investments.
Key users of the proposed energy commodities services include photovoltaic companies; wind farm developers, operators, and maintenance companies; oil and gas companies; coal companies; nuclear energy companies; energy traders and investors; energy suppliers and distributors; environmental agencies; municipalities and local governments.
Agri-commodities and food
It is a major concern that the entire globe will face a deep crisis related to the shortage of food in the nearby future since a major percentage of the world’s agriculture commodities such as wheat, maize, barley, corn, and sunflower oil are produced in Ukraine and Russia. In addition, the global food resilience is also relying on the utilisation of agriculture fertilisers whose production relies on natural gas; this overall significantly contributes to the increase of price of many essential food products. In response to these challenges, the agriculture sector is expected to experience the need of an increase of Agri-tech best practices towards regenerative farming, thus reducing the use of pesticides and fertilisers. However, for regenerative farming to become economically viable, development of machinery and processes to decrease the costs of regenerative practices and planning tools to determine key risk factors and support strategic decisions are needed.
Agri-food stakeholders include farmers, producers (food, fertilisers), distributors, agricultural commodity traders, logistics, insurers, investors or in general industries relying on agricultural commodities, e.g., industrial oil suppliers.
The latest geopolitical events have further disrupted the global supply chain that started slowly to recover after the pandemic, reinforcing the need for the organisations to strength the resilience of the supply chain to the risks. While governments, corporations and industries are now scrambling to obtain alternative supplies, the supply is becoming tight, and prices are dramatically increasing. This represents a significant risk for many key sectors such as automotive which would be severely impacted by components’ shortage. Further to the above, the conflict is having far-reaching ramifications for many supply chains, for example, there are immediate consequences for the transport of goods, not only the fuel raising prices, but also in looking for alternative routes outside of dangerous territories. This is causing port congestions, shipping delays and container shortages. In the short-term and medium-term, it is compelling for the organisations to start re-planning their supply chain strategies to become more resilient. To decrease the dependency on foreign supply, whenever possible, companies would need to reconfigure and relocate their supply chain, for example, converting land to agricultural usage to increase production of agricultural commodities. Another key element is the transparency and traceability throughout the supply chain, to increase coordination efforts across the involved players.
VALUE OF SPACE
To achieve the objectives and address the above topics, the proposed services shall rely on innovative space technologies and data. Examples of potential utilisation of space assets are:
Satellite Communications (SatCom):
- Satellite internet of things (IoT), including 5G-based, to connect sensors in agriculture areas with limited coverage from terrestrial networks.
- SatCom supported tracking and trace solutions to optimise supply and logistic processes.
- Digital technologies and SatCom for grid balancing supporting demand & response
Satellite Earth Observation (SatEO):
- SatEO data to identify uncultivated land which could meet the environmental criteria for effective production of agriculture commodities; to monitor / forecast crop productions and potential sales; to assess economic viability potential and environmental benefits of regenerative agriculture approaches.
- SatEO data to support assessment of environmental impact and bankability of renewable energy plants, including small-scale generation of renewable electricity; to support predictive maintenance of offshore energy sources to extend assets’ lifetime.
- Advanced GIS for spatial information management, including utilisation of SatEO data to monitor risks along the supply chain (e.g., environmental risks).
Satellite Navigation (SatNav):
- Ubiquitous high accuracy Positioning, Navigation and Timing (PNT) technologies to support accurate and seamless positioning provided by Global Navigation Satellite Systems (GNSS), 5G and other complementary terrestrial and on-board systems, throughout the supply chain.
- Tracking data coming with SatEO derived information can strengthen traceability systems to show where products originate and how they move through the supply chain so that sustainability risks can be identified.
- PNT technologies for unmanned solutions (air, land, and sea).
Intended services can integrate space-based technologies with non-space technologies like machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI), and IoT.
WHAT WE OFFER
We offer funding and support to companies, both for business case assessment and for the development of new, space-based services. Our offer includes:
- Technical & commercial guidance
- Access to our network and partners
- Use of the ESA brand for your service
- Zero-equity funding
The activities will be 80% funded up to €200K per activity.
WHO CAN APPLY?
This thematic call for feasibility studies is open to companies that intend to develop space-enabled applications and services relating but not restricted to the key focus areas mentioned above.
Teams from companies or organisations registered in the following Member States are eligible to apply for this opportunity. To date, Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom have subscribed to ESA Business Applications and Space Solutions (BASS).
Contact information can be found under: National Delegations.
HOW TO APPLY
- Register by completing the online questionnaire on esa-star registration (this provides for the minimum ‘light registration’).
- Visit esa-star publications and search for this opportunity to download the official tender documentation. Official documents will include proposal templates, a draft contract, and additional information about this opportunity.
- Use the official documents to prepare your proposal.
- Write your proposal and obtain a Letter of Support from your National Delegation, if needed (see Authorisation of Funding section below).
- Submit your proposal via esa-star Tendering by the deadline.
Webinars are scheduled for the following dates:
- 11:00 CEST, 13 September 2022
- Roberta Mugellesi Dow - Business Applications Officer, European Space Agency (ESA)
- Johannes Pfeifer - Coordination Manager, German Federal Agency for Agriculture and Food (BLE)
- Mark McGranaghan - Fellow, Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)