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Key digital technologies that would contribute to the energy transition the most

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Key digital technologies that would contribute to the energy transition the most

Trying to determine what technologies would contribute to the energy transition the most, Globuc spoke to Harshit Sharma – Lead Analyst at Lux Research.

What is Lux Research doing, and what is your role in particular?

Lux Research is a consulting firm, or as you can call it – market intelligence. We help our clients with open innovation by helping them to connect the dots with innovative technologies, new startups, and academia. Basically, we are helping them to innovate outside R&D.

As you are probably aware, a lot of traditional oil & gas companies have their venture groups – Shell, Total, BP amongst them. So, a lot of these companies are looking externally for innovation. That’s where we help them. We provide information, reports, we speak with startups or any company that our client might be interested in. Essentially, we help to form an innovation strategy for companies.

What would be the key digital technologies that would contribute to the energy transition the most?

It’s a good question. How I perceive the digital as a facilitator or enabler for the energy transition. But fundamentally, the emissions will go down in the industry due to the fact that practices will become better, not the digital technology itself.

The three emissions that I will touch base on in my presentation are carbon, methane, and water.  The issue with water emission is not that common, but if you look at major producers in the US – the water treatment is a major problem there. The main focus of digital would be in methane emissions. That‘s where the digital is going to have the biggest impact and it is going to be two-fold – one is remote sensing and another is related to AI applications. Right now, I see sensing as the main area where digital is going to bring value for cutting emission.

When it comes to methane, there is no point-source where emission is going to be. You can’t predict which infrastructure or equipment is going to leak methane, so you have to consistently monitor the infrastructure.  You can achieve it with imaging systems, like hyperspectral cameras, by regularly deploying autonomous drones to refinery or oilfield to consistently monitor the fields and fix the leak as soon as it appears.

Could you name some interesting startups that are working in this field right now?

SeekOps and Scout Drone: These are the companies Equinor has invested in. SeekOps is the developer of light-weight methane sensors that can be mounted on Scout Drone’s autonomous drones so oil and gas players can better monitor offshore oilfields, refineries, etc. It will give Equinor the tools to better monitor methane emissions.

Satelytics: Using AI to understand constituents of wastewater stream so operators can plan ahead for treatment equipment so they can extract precious metals such as lithium.

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