Kayrros bets on satellite imagery to accelerate decarbonization

It is a major contributor to global warming and it has recently become an essential subject in the fight against climate change: methane, a very powerful greenhouse gas, is the source of polluting emissions massive, in particular by the oil industry, according to a recent study carried out by CNRS, the CEA and the start-up Kayrros. The latter is precisely at the origin of a disruptive solution based on the analysis, by artificial intelligence, of satellite images, to detect “super-emitters”. “We have set up the first platform that scans the planet daily to automatically detect very large methane leaks, those that are both the most harmful and often the easiest to seal, and which alone represent more than a gigatonne of carbon equivalent just waiting to be disposed of”, says Antoine Halff, co-founder of this strategic nugget supported by the Tech Sovereignty Fund, a fund managed by the Public Investment Bank. A solution that is part of the range of tools that the company, which today has 130 employees, has been developing since 2016 to measure levels of CO2 and other gases with warming potential in real time. Objective: to help its customers to “optimize operations, reduce their costs and take effective action in terms of decarbonization, while supporting companies in managing their risks, particularly climate and energy transition risks”.

A key point: AWS services

At the heart of this technology intended for industrialists, governments, international organizations and the financial sector: data from satellites – in particular those of the European Space Agency (ESA) with the Sentinel satellites of the observation program Copernicus, when they are not satellites from NASA’s Landsat program or even private constellations. Kayrros processes, analyzes and cross-references this data using its artificial intelligence algorithms to then develop parameters and enable informed decisions. An innovation that is now scaling up. “Historically, the exploitation of satellite images was based essentially on high definition images, which were expensive, or on images that were difficult to access because they were compressed in formats that were very greedy in terms of space and resources to decode them”, explains Antoine Halff. Enough to motivate the start-up to opt for the services of Amazon Web Services (AWS), to reduce costs while accelerating.

“Having AWS make satellite imagery assets available in the right format allows us to retrieve only the information we need. AWS also gives us the elasticity in compute capabilities that enables processing at scale.”, says Jean-Pierre Dacher, Technical Director of Kayrros. Example, “With AWS, we are able to launch a historical reconstruction on a thousand industrial sites on a continent scale and on a time scale of four years. This requires acquiring tens of thousands of small chunks of images over time for each of the assets we are interested in, like collections of industrial sites like cement plants or electrical installations.”, he explains. In other words, the open data registry on the AWS cloud allows Kayrros to access images “Kept up to date, in the right format, with a very competitive access cost”and thus reduce their processing time by up to 90% in certain configurations.

The cloud, lever of agility

Other point, “it is much more advantageous and sustainable for us to use managed services such as those of AWS for our technical stack (note: technical environment)since it is not our core competence and it allows us to concentrate on our business », continues Jean-Pierre Dacher. In addition, its “raw material” being sensitive data, Kayrros relies on AWS to strengthen their confidentiality, requested by its customers, which the start-up alone could not easily ensure. Not to mention that activity monitoring (Amazon Cloud Watch) refines the accounting and gives visibility on the costs and profitability of the various projects, he assures.

Finally, the nugget, which has also been supported by AWS as part of one of its programs for start-ups, has partnered with AWS space unit, unique in its kind, to carry out certain joint actions in the field of space. So many levers of agility on which the young shoot of deeptech relies to spread its wings, including internationally. Already present in Europe, the United States, the Middle East and Asia, Kayrros now has ambitions in Africa. “We have developed means to monitor deforestation, measure forest height, species diversity, foliage density and accurately assess the carbon content sequestered in vegetation units”, concludes Antoine Halff. In short, Kayrros’ solutions are able to validate whether a displayed carbon offset is credible – or not. Gone are the days of greenwashing!