Satellite Data Acquisition Program
Methane is an important greenhouse gas (GHG) that is responsible for more than 25 percent of current global warming. Methane has a relatively short lifetime in the atmosphere (about a decade), meaning that emission reductions in the near term will slow the pace of global temperature rise.
Previous research studies supported by CARB have used a novel class of instruments referred to as ‘methane plume mappers’ onboard planes to identify individual plumes of methane in California. These plumes of methane can be viewed in CARB’s Methane Source Finder tool, linked below. However, airplanes equipped with these technologies cannot cover large spatial areas with the frequency needed to support programs for large-scale methane mitigation.
Commercial satellite companies are in the early stages of developing and deploying satellites equipped with similar methane plume mapping instruments. These satellite systems may enable frequent observation of large portions of California, thus supporting regulatory mitigation programs and helping California reach its climate targets. To that end, the California State Budget Act of 2022 allocated $100 million for the purchase of methane plume data from a commercial satellite company. The California State Budget Act of 2022 also recognized that commercial satellites may collect valuable measurements of other important environmental indicators. This money will be awarded through a competitive request for proposal (RFP) process. The RFP process will also include a request for information (RFI).
The RFP process steps and expected timeline are:
- End of December 2022: RFI released
- January 2023: RFI Q&A with vendors
- End of January 2023: Vendor RFI responses due
- May 2023: RFP Pre-solicitation released
- End of May 2023: Vendor conferences
- Q3: Tentative release of RFP
A graphic depicting the expected timeline is shown below, and will be updated as we progress:
The California Air Resources Board is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions, with successful regulatory programs targeting methane and other greenhouse gases and will continue to explore how best to use this new information to reduce emissions even further. CARB will continue to work with other jurisdictions to successfully reduce methane emissions through policy and new data sources such as satellite-based observations.