Undeniably, the climate crisis is an existential issue. Therefore, finding innovative solutions to reach net zero is paramount. Shifting from depletion to regeneration is fundamental and can be facilitated through space technology. 


The International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Synthesis Report confirms that there are ‘multiple, feasible and effective options available’ to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, but they will become insufficient if we do not act now. The space sector presents a significant decarbonisation opportunity to the global economy by helping to reduce the carbon intensity of many industries through satellite communications, satellite navigation, the Internet of Things (IoT) and other applications. Despite these benefits, policymakers often overlook space technology. 


Satellites are helping decarbonise the planet to the extent of 1.5 gigatonnes of carbon per annum – the equivalent carbon output of the UK, France and Germany combined. The report ‘Can space help save the planet?’ identifies three key sectors that account for an estimated 60% of the world’s carbon emissions: Agriculture, Transport/Logistics and Energy systems. As previously described, these industries are already being transformed by satellite data. Shipping, aviation, and agriculture are critical to humanity’s way of life and are expanding to reach the demands of our growing planet. Therefore, reducing carbon emissions in these sectors is a challenge that provides vast opportunities. Satellites and IoT have the potential to reshape how these industries are defined.


Looking at the world’s emissions through energy, electrification, industrial processes, agriculture and clean power generation, businesses must look at space technology to address these industries.


Furthermore, the commercialisation of space has enabled effective climate action that does not rely on the political opinions of different governments to reach agreements. The widespread growth of the space industry requires international cooperation and regulation, but the data and resources available do not. Satellites can hold illegal polluters accountable, monitor climate risk, and protect against weather-induced catastrophes.


Satellite data can aid renewable infrastructure by using predictive models of solar and cloud cover to locate where these resources would be most efficient. The initiative to use space for renewable energies is an exciting prospect. Placing solar panels in orbit where they have an unrestricted view of the sun, facing no obstruction from the Earth’s atmosphere, means space-based solar power plants would generate energy more efficiently than Earth-based plants. Researchers believe that space-based solar has the potential to harvest over 13 times more energy. This concept is gaining traction from energy and satellite companies across the globe, with competing developments already underway.


The drive for generating clean power can also be harnessed through nuclear power. Some satellite companies use nuclear energy to improve sustainability in space and on Earth. For instance, nuclear reactors could provide astronauts with a reliable source of surface power for extended exploration missions and a possible sustained human presence on other planetary bodies, supplying power for decades without refuelling. X-energy is advancing the use of nuclear thermal propulsion to improve rocket energy efficiency and safe and scalable nuclear reactors for continued energy usage. Avalanche Energy is building micro-reactors for lasting power application and power density to provide clean energy and decarbonise the planet. These are just the beginning.


Space technology not only facilitates the monitoring of biodiversity, wildlife, natural resources, and land use changes to support net-zero adaptation. It also has commitments to deliver greater supply chain transparency and traceability, clean energy transition and decarbonised industrial processes. The data provided by space technology is invaluable for achieving our sustainable goals and, more urgently, our climate action. While this technology already exists, building on this infrastructure and future possibilities are endless. With this comes a huge investment opportunity that can drive the change humanity needs. Space technology offers us a chance to act now.





Avalanche Energy (n.d) Our visionhttps://www.avalanche.energy/

Inmarsat, (2022). Can space help save the planet? https://www.inmarsat.com/content/dam/inmarsat/corporate/documents/corporate/insights/Inmarsat_Can_space_help_save_the_planet_Final.pdf.gc.pdf

IPCC, (2023). AR6 Synthesis Report https://www.ipcc.ch/report/ar6/syr/resources/spm-headline-statements 

Sifted (2023). SpaceTech: The big business of Space on Earth https://content.sifted.eu/wp-content/uploads/2023/01/19081913/Spacetech-1.pdf 

X-Energy (n.d) Nuclear and Space. https://x-energy.com/