Innovation of the Week

Will this new satellite make power plants a lot greener?

It just might ...

Each week, we spotlight a cool innovation recommended by some of the industry's top tech writers. This week's pick is a satellite that can detect methane leaks.

Methane leaks from oil and gas facilities are "set to be spotted from space," said Damian Carrington at The Guardian. The Environmental Defense Fund plans to launch MethaneSAT, a satellite equipped to "scan the globe and make major leaks public," by 2021. Methane is a potent greenhouse gas, responsible for roughly a fifth of human-caused climate change. The EDF says that though the oil and gas industry is responsible for about a third of emissions, which can come from leaky pipelines and fracking sites, just 3 percent of energy firms currently report their leaks.

(Courtesy image)

The satellite will play an important role in detecting where emissions are coming from. Although some ­government-run satellites can detect methane, they can't pinpoint its source. MethaneSAT should provide "a new level of precision" in monitoring about 50 major oil and gas regions, covering 80 percent of global production.

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