satellite heat map

Satellites to track UK areas suffering from poor air quality and low energy efficiency

Image credit: eon

Satellite data is being used to determine areas of the UK that are lacking in energy efficiency or have poor air quality.

Energy company E.On is working with the European Space Agency (ESA) and Earth observation specialist Astrosat on the project, which uses satellite imaging data to determine the worst-hit areas.

The project will use near real-time and archived data gathered from orbiting satellites - including optical sources, thermal-infrared for heat mapping and air quality and pollution tracking - which will combine with Astrosat’s ThermCERT software to help tackle issues such as housing condition and insulation, air quality and even traffic management.

This is then cross-matched with existing data on housing and vulnerable customers, which will provide local authorities and even entire cities with a street-level view of where improvements are most needed.

The approach will allow local policy makers to better target their approaches to upgrading housing stock, optimise energy efficiency installations and improve air quality or ease congestion across communities.

Current energy-efficiency programmes often rely on door-to-door visits or doorstep mailings in order to talk directly to customers and analyse their specific needs.

The large amount of data which can be captured using satellite technology means a bigger and more accurate picture can be created quickly, which improves the success rate of installation works.

During the project, E.On and Astrosat, with the support of ESA, will develop the system for around 18 months, including a city-scale trial. If the UK trial is successful the project could be rolled out across other countries.

Business and energy secretary Greg Clark said, “This government-backed technology could boldly go where no technician in a van has gone before, with the potential to pinpoint households in fuel poverty or those at risk.

“Matched with government data, this heat-mapping technology could mean less time spent on the road and more time dedicated to upgrading homes though our £6bn energy-efficiency ECO scheme - the sky’s the limit.”

Fraser Hamilton, chief operating officer at Astrosat, added, “We’ve applied our technical knowledge to E.On’s wealth of experience with local authorities and ESA’s space acumen to create something truly unique that will add real value to the UK energy market.

“Astrosat’s ThermCERT system allied to E.On data provides a space-age solution to Earth’s energy challenges by leveraging the power of space technology to deliver real-world benefits.  In a world where data is routinely generated before a problem or application is known to exist, we are able to intelligently cross-correlate and fuse that data from in-situ satellites.”

E.On and Astrosat expect the product to be ready for use in a UK pilot by Q3 2019.

Earlier this month, one of the lead developers on a new satellite, Aeolus, which uses lasers to determine global wind speeds and improve weather forecasts spoke to E&T about the 10-year project and how the technology works. 

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