18th October 2017Blog

Copernicus4Energy – Another opportunity for Earth Observation

Blog by Peter Hausknecht, Chief Scientist.

Thursday the 12th of October – Brussels – 9:30 am, I am sitting together with about 100 colleagues in the Breydel auditorium of DG-GROW the EU’s ‘Department General for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs’.

The EU Copernicus program is hosting an industry workshop on ‘Copernicus 4 Energy’ ahead of the Copernicus user forum the next day. Bringing together stakeholders from the Earth Observation (EO) and (non-hydrocarbon) Energy sectors, it’s goal is to highlight the potential for Copernicus data and derived products to support the energy industry’s current and emerging needs, including also any energy transition applications.

Covering the sectors Hydro Power, Solar – Wind – Wave, and Tidal Energy, plus energy distribution and network grid applications, a number of presentations highlighted mostly existing opportunities in the different areas. Encroaching vegetation mapping in high spatial resolution for power lines, detailed environmental impact studies for new hydro power schemes or geospatial location assessments for new wind or solar parks are some examples. However the assessment of energy consumption hotspots, urban sprawl and power grid expansion consideration are also areas of interest where EO can support current and future developments.

I am one of the invited speakers to share my experiences as an EO scientist in the Oil and Gas industry and explore how the non-hydrocarbon energy sector could benefit from some of the activities and experiences from the past. This notion is shared by a number of other speakers, referencing my talk and pointing towards the OGEO initiative as an example of good practice for industry / EO service provider interaction and information sharing.

We are starting with mostly talks by ‘proxy’ end users, meaning intermediate users sitting in between the supplier and the true end user. These are mostly SMEs, Universities and other R&D groups, covering one or more dedicated end-user application, and using current Copernicus services. Later we hear the Copernicus view and what the different Copernicus services offer, and later in the afternoon the institutional view from ESA and EU DG-Grow, and EARSC the service provider’s professional organisation.

In subsequent discussions the view was expressed that a clear line is needed to separate the free Copernicus services offered and the business opportunities for the many SMEs in Europe already utilising EO data for their business. It’s especially the case that a reliable supply of very high resolution data is critical for the success of these commercial services in meeting the needs of end-user clients that require such high resolution which bodes well for our ambitious plans at Earth-i.  We also heard about the need for an increased supply of in-situ measurements to add ground truth data and verify any EO data services.

In summary, this was a very useful get together of EO professionals in the Copernicus user world – but no singular picture emerges on what the full potential of this sector could be for EO applications and utilisation of Copernicus. End-user driven ‘success’ stories, where EO helped to increase the viability or improve the efficiency of energy projects, and an EO vision for the future provided by experts understanding where EO can assist the renewables energy sector, are needed in my view.

We look forward to more of these very valuable workshops, get-togethers at industry events and user interactions, where the short and longer term questions / needs / issues of the non-hydrocarbon energy sector can be discussed. Earth Observation and related geospatial technologies need to demonstrate that the data they generate will improve and streamline workflows, saving resources and expenses, and show where the energy industry can benefit from HSSE and risk reduction opportunities provided by Earth Observation in general and Copernicus services in particular.

If you wish to discuss this further with Peter, please email: enquiries@earthi.co.uk

For more information on this event, and to review the presentations, please visit: http://copernicus.eu/EnergyWorkshop