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Duke Energy Collaborating with Accenture and Microsoft to Develop First-Ever Platform for Methane-Emissions Monitoring
August 24, 2021 News


Duke Energy recently announced its collaboration with Accenture and Microsoft to develop a new technology platform designed to measure actual baseline methane emissions from natural gas distribution systems. This unique platform will provide near-real-time data collection, allowing Duke Energy’s field response teams to more rapidly identify and repair methane leaks.

The cloud-hosted platform will track and prioritise data associated with leaks using advanced detection methods such as satellites, fixed-wing aircraft and ground-level sensing technology. The new sensor technology can detect trace levels of methane emissions that current technology may not identify. The new platform will augment the company’s drive towards net-zero methane emissions in its natural gas business by 2030.

As a part of this effort, the companies will first execute monthly satellite captures in Greenville, South Carolina in the U.S., beginning in August to further refine the technology for identifying methane leaks on Duke Energy’s pipeline system. Duke Energy anticipates implementing its methane-monitoring platform by October 2021.

Duke Energy began testing satellites for detecting leaks on its natural gas system in 2020. The company found satellite detection has the potential to be more accurate and an expedient way to locate leaks when compared to traditional leak survey methods such as aerial and foot patrols.

“This platform will reimagine how natural gas local distribution companies calculate methane emissions and perform leak surveys and improve the expediency in which leaks may be repaired, resulting in dramatically lower methane emissions”, said Brian Weisker, senior vice president and chief operations officer, natural gas at Duke Energy. “The current industry standard uses calculated data to report methane emissions, which leaves room for inaccuracies when it comes to actual methane levels”.

To help design the Microsoft Azure-based platform to handle a high volume of data from a variety of sources, Accenture—in collaboration with Avanade, its joint venture with Microsoft—will apply its experience in analytics, artificial intelligence and cloud computing. These technologies will help drive the insights from the platform for improving operations and delivering on the methane emissions goal.

“Our work with Duke Energy and Microsoft demonstrates how technology, innovation and artificial intelligence can help address sustainability challenges”, said Mark Schuler, a managing director in Accenture’s utilities practice. “Together, we can show others how to achieve their sustainability goals and make it an integral part of delivering value for all stakeholders, and not as one-off practices”.

“We are looking forward to contributing to this collaboration with Duke Energy, Accenture and Avanade in supporting Duke Energy’s progress to net-zero methane by 2030”, said Darryl Willis, corporate vice president of energy and sustainability at Microsoft. “This is a great example of innovation and collaboration coming together to enable industries to more accurately detect, calculate and report on emissions and take action”.