Objectives of the service
Meeting the EU’s ambitious 2050 Net Zero target presents a considerable challenge for the Buildings and Energy & Utilities sectors. Leveraging space-based solutions and access to real-time data, offers a promising avenue for enhancing decision-making regarding greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction. However, the effectiveness of these solutions depends on the availability of relevant space data and the development of innovative downstream applications, enabling technologies, and pioneering concepts to generate data that can be transformed into actionable intelligence for users.
The project aimed to develop a comprehensive action plan for maximizing the potential of space-based solutions in supporting the transition to a greener economy and decarbonization in these sectors. This involved:
Defining user requirements.
Identifying opportunities for the space sector to address key user requirements.
Defining space-based concepts to address these user gaps.
Evaluating these concepts for technical and economic feasibility.
Outlining implementation roadmaps to take the concepts to market.
The project addresses two primary challenges. Firstly, it identifies cutting-edge novel space-based technologies, existing, planned and potential, capable of addressing the specific data needs. This assessment categorises solutions into three groups:
Space-based technologies capable of producing relevant data/intelligence.
Solutions possessing raw data but requiring additional processing and analysis (e.g., modelling) for generating relevant insights.
Emerging solutions with the potential to provide relevant data in the future.
Secondly, the project has evaluated the viability of bringing emerging solutions to market from both technical and economic perspectives. This evaluation aims to guide the prioritisation and implementation of action plans, focusing on space-based technologies with real potential to meet user requirements and enhance GHG abatement strategies of the identified sectors.
Users and their needs
Who are they?
Target users encompass firms within the EU Buildings and Energy & Utilities sectors, seeking solutions for further reducing GHG emissions.
What do they need?
These users require high-quality, real-time data to refine their GHG abatement strategies and space-based solutions hold promise in fulfilling these data requirements.
The project focused on a smaller set of significant use cases, established by the following criteria: impact on decarbonisation, the space-based technology gap, and the prevalence of the requirements from conducted stakeholder interviews. The follow 3 use-cases were selected:
Use-case 1: Digital Twin model for city planners to support urban development.
Use-case 2: Data to measure energy performance of buildings and prioritise retrofitting.
Energy & Utilities sector
Use case 3: The remote detection of water leaks.
Service/ system concept
For each of the use-cases selected, the various segments (space, ground, user, etc.,) were clearly defined with their technical characteristics. A technical roadmap was also compiled.
Use-case 1: Digital Twin model for to support urban development
This solution requires a new satellite constellation that provides high-spatial resolution stereo-optical images to capture and derive building footprints and rooftop & façade material, accompanied by high resolution LiDAR data for height estimation for accurate 3D city model generation. Data collection is required at a very high resolution and frequency (once a week), with TIR data at 2m to 5m spatial resolution.
Use case 2: Data to measure energy performance of buildings and prioritise retrofitting
Similar to use-case 1, this mission is built to assess energy efficiency of buildings from space, using three different payloads – RGB, VIIRS, MWIR- mounted together on three satellites with different viewing angles. Additional processing and data sources are needed to develop a comprehensive understanding of a building’s energy efficiency, alongside data collection at very high resolution and a monthly frequency.
Use-case 3: The remote detection of water leaks
This solution can be brought to market by using existing space infrastructure, specifically those with SAR sensors that address the user requirement of 5-10m and global coverage. Development of an algorithm would be required to address the use-case alongside additional data such as weather measurements, and geographic maps of water pipe infrastructures.
Space Added Value
The asset categories that are in scope of the assessment of current and planned space-based technologies against user needs, and potentially of the set of technical concepts and roadmaps for future implementation are:
Following the analysis, a conclusion was made on the overall commercial viability of these solutions. The study found that:
High upfront capital investment for dedicated satellite infrastructure, combined with limited asset utilisation of solutions renders these solutions financially unviable. However, early adoption of these solution can be justified for the socio-economic impact that they can have in reducing carbon emissions.
Solutions could achieve commercial viability by expanding the geographical reach beyond Europe and addressing multiple use cases within a unified satellite constellation. User requirements analysis reveals a significant overlap, suggesting a potential for a minimum viable architecture.
Relaxing some of the stringent requirements (revisit times, stereo imagery, and high thermal imagery) and exploring Commercial Off-the-Shelf (COTS) subsystems merits further examination to reduce overall solution costs.
The project adopts a ‘build’ strategy for use-cases, but governments and institutions may wish to consider a ‘wait and buy’ approach, supporting emerging solutions through co-investments or data productivity.
To integrate the project’s priorities, the roadmap is intended as a high-level analysis of current downstream data options against novel space-based solutions to signal potential technical opportunities for decarbonisation efforts.
The roadmap has been built across into 4 phases (phase 0 to phase 3). Figure 5 presents the activities necessary across the four workstreams for product development. Gates serve as review points, facilitating an assessment to ascertain the alignment of progress with scheduled activities.