COP26: Satellite-based land management platform launched

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National Grid and California-based satellite solution provider AiDash have launched the Intelligent Sustainability Management System (ISMS) at COP26 in Glasgow.

The solution, developed over the last nine months by AiDash working closely with National Grid Partners’ innovation team, is designed for use by utility companies and others to monitor biodiversity, emissions and other sustainability metrics for land, air and water.

The system, which draws on satellite data and artificial intelligence, is intended for organisations with large landholdings that face challenges in using traditional on the ground surveying methods, with the costs and complexities often hindering their full implementation.

Such monitoring is becoming increasingly important. In the UK for example, the Environment Bill is planned to further strengthen planning powers mandating at least 10% net gain in biodiversity for all new developments and raise the imperative of land sustainability across many sectors.

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A survey by SAP and Oxford Economics found that half of utility and energy executives indicated increased process complexity to be a hindrance to meeting sustainability goals.

“At National Grid, we are committed to improving the environmental value across our sites in the UK by 10% by 2026, from a natural capital and biodiversity baseline,” said Prem Gabbi, Head of National Grid Property.

“It’s a crucial step in helping us achieve our regulatory obligations and enabling us to make our contribution towards addressing the biodiversity crisis and climate change. Collaborating with the Intelligent Sustainability Management System could enable us to make environmental surveys and audits, relatively seamless, while saving weeks of manual labour in the field work.”

National Grid has c. 3500 hectares of non-operational land in the UK, which could benefit.

The ISMS ‘Land’ module is designed to help reduce laborious fieldwork through AI-backed image analysis for systematic mapping, planning and assessing land enhancements, and quantify biodiversity to plan sustainable land development and restoration initiatives based on the environmental value of varying habitats.

The greenhouse gas emissions are measured across sources like well pads and gas pipelines through the ISMS ‘Air’ module.

National Grid Partners is the company’s venture arm which invests in and incubates energy sector start-ups.