A US environmental group, The Environmental Defense Fund plans to spend tens of millions of dollars on a detection satellite to detect methane leaking from gas and oil industry installations. 

The project that will be funded by private donations is planned to offer public information, which could be utilized by oil firms, investors and anyone else involved in evaluating emissions of methane – a potent greenhouse gas. 

The scheme is the current example of how well-resourced green groups are taking advantage of the technology to improve their capability to scrutinizing businesses. Developments in data and sensor analytics and the falling price of putting satellites into space denote the methane detection project has become obtainable at a price of tens of millions instead of hundreds of millions of dollars, according to EDF. 

Not all the subsidy has yet been raised; however, the environmental group is at ease it can safeguard the money it requires from donors in time to have their satellite launched by early 2021. 

According to the Mark Brownstein, a representative from EDF, he said that the technology has developed in both cost and capability so that you no longer require government institutions to collect information, which is helpful for fixing environmental issues.

The satellite is planned to determine methane concentrations in an area one kilometer square, sweeping every once a week in more than fifty gas and oil producing areas, which together account for at least 80% of the output of the world. 

The Environmental Defense Fund has been working along with Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and Harvard University on the technical and science strategy for the project and by the end of 2018, they expect to have summarized requirements, determined a company to develop the satellite and set a schedule for the takeoff. 

Emissions of methane that is the major constituent of natural gas are calculated to account for at least a quarter of present global warming, and also symbolize a waste of gas, which could be utilized if captured. Shifting from coal to gas for electricity generation leads in reduced carbon dioxide emissions; however, the effects in terms of greenhouse gases is lessened by leaks of methane on its way from the reservoir to the power plant.

The gas and oil industry has released a sequence of initiatives for stopping methane leakage. Ten top corporations including Royal Dutch Shell, BO, CNPC and Saudi Aramco have developed a group known as the Oil and Gas Climate Initiatives and have made a goal of “near zero” emissions of methane.