Google and WattTime need space to track power plant emissions

The project intends to use the data to hold polluting plants accountable to environmental standards and enable advanced new emissions reduction technologies

A new project that will use satellite imagery and allow people to measure carbon emissions from all large power plants worldwide has been launched.

WattTime is leading the project, working in collaboration with Carbon Tracker and the World Resources Institute (WRI), after being granted $1.7 million (£1.3m) through the Google AI Impact Challenge.

They aim to use the data to hold polluting plants accountable to environmental standards as well as enable advanced new emissions reduction technologies.

Artificial intelligence (AI) technology will use the latest image processing algorithms to detect signs of power plant emissions – the project will combine data from a variety of different sensors operating at different wavelengths for maximum accuracy.

AI algorithms will then cross-validate multiple indicators of power plant emissions, from thermal infrared, indicating heat near smoke stacks and cooling water intake, to visual spectrum recognition that a power plant is emitting smoke.

Although a few wealthy countries track emissions from some power plants, the vast majority of plants worldwide are not continuously tracked, which potentially complicate environmental regulations that are in place.

Gavin McCormick, Executive Director of WattTime said: “Far too many power companies worldwide currently shroud their pollution in secrecy. But through the growing power of AI, our little coalition of non-profits is about to lift that veil all over the world.

“To think that today a little team like ours can use emerging AI remote sensing techniques to hold every powerful polluter worldwide accountable is pretty incredible. But what I really love about better data is how it puts most companies, governments and environmentalists on the same side. We’ve been thrilled to see how many responsible, forward-thinking groups have started using advanced data to voluntarily slash emissions without anyone making them.”

WattTime adds it has already collected a significant amount of data, confirmed the feasibility of the methodologies and developed a network of users who could apply the emissions data for greater impact.

Technologies for energy users that can help them reduce costs and emissions will be among those on display at The Energy Solutions Show (TESS)  on June 5th at Millennium Point, Birmingham.

If you wish to register as a delegate for free, you can send an e-mail here or to showcase your technology, you can get in touch here.

Latest Podcast