Satellites to watch over power plants

NGO Carbon Tracker has announced a new project, funded by a $1.7m grant from, to use satellite imagery to measure carbon emissions from large power plants globally.

Carbon Tracker, in collaboration with WattTime and the World Resources Institute (WRI), were chosen through the Google AI Impact Challenge to use the data to hold plants accountable to environmental standards with Information from the project available to the public.

“We received thousands of applications to the Google AI Impact Challenge and are excited to be supporting Carbon Tracker, Wattime and the WRI with funding and expertise from Google,” said Jacquelline Fuller, president of “AI is at a nascent stage when it comes to the value it can have for the social impact sector, and we look forward to seeing the outcomes of this work and considering where there is potential for us to do even more.”

The project will use a satellite network to observe power plants from space. AI technology will use the latest image processing algorithms to detect signs of power plant emissions. AI algorithms will cross-validate multiple indicators of power plant emissions, from thermal infrared, indicating heat near smoke stacks and cooling water intake, to visual spectrum recognition that a power plant is emitting smoke.

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