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March 9,2020

ESA Business Applications – Competitive Opportunities

Connected Rural Communities 

Rural communities present several challenges in different sectors such as tourism, mobility, education, farming, energy, security and healthcare.  The issues faced by residents of rural communities are very different than those in urban areas due to a lack of access to main infrastructure. These many challenges of rural communities receive more attention in both regional and national strategies to support their development. Space assets can offer added value to these internet technologies and increase their capabilities in a number of ways. 

Life of Communities: Education & Health 

Business Opportunities: Mobility & Tourism 

Safety & Security 

Management of Resources: Utilities & Natural Resources 

Smart Supply Chain 

Supply chains can be complex and often involve the management of a vast range of activities. Automatizing operations, ensuring the safe and secure transport of goods, and adopting environmentally friendly processes are becoming increasingly important in supply chain management, while new technologies like delivery drones, autonomous ground robots, and connected machinery offer exciting new ways for supply chains to be optimised. 

Nevertheless, some sectors still face significant challenges: short shipping times demanded by customers put huge pressure on retailers to solve the last mile problem, getting fresh and perishable goods rapidly into stores remains a key target to maximise shelf life and reduce waste, and consumers are demanding transparency about product sources. Natural disasters and political instability can significantly disrupt the sourcing and transportation of goods, while other regions face challenges because they are remote, lack infrastructure, or are missing important data. 

The aim of this kick-start opportunity is to investigate new services, which use space assets to enhance supply chain management. 

Topics of relevance include: Smart shipping, Green shipping, Safe shipping, Humanitarian shipping, Supply chain insights 

Decommissioning of Energy Assets 

The decommissioning of energy assets is a relevant issue worldwide. 

Two main types of assets are targeted by ESA through this funding opportunity: offshore oil & gas platforms and wind farms. 

The decommissioning of oil and gas platforms involves activities such as removal of underwater structures and topside platforms; these activities have to be handled carefully in order to minimize environmental impact. Oil and gas decommissioning activities are ramping up worldwide, due to installations developed from the 1970s onward reaching their end of life. 

The wind farm decommissioning market is emerging, because assets installed in the 90s and early 2000s are now approaching their end-of-life phase. 

The decommissioning of wind farms is less complex in terms of environmental risk impact but still entails several parts to be removed and disposed, such as turbine towers, foundations, offshore substations, meteorological masts and subsea cables, with associated complex logistic processes. 

Furthermore, significant efforts are being undertaken to reuse end-of-life energy infrastructure. Examples of re-use include conversion of offshore rigs into CO2 storage tanks, reef-like infrastructures, or holidays resorts. 

This environment presents new opportunities for the European industry to come up with new commercial decommissioning solutions enabled by space. 

ESA intends to launch a new Invitation to Tender, to assess the technical feasibility and commercial viability of satellite-based services in support of decommissioning of energy assets. Any resulting studies are also intended to establish the roadmap for service implementation through follow-on demonstration projects. 

Key focus areas: Monitoring of environmental impact, support to waste management process, end-to-end business support services, support to automation of decommissioning activities, use of innovative space-enabled technology to support logistics and ensure safety of operations. 

Green Buildings Services 

Green buildings are structures that have an environmentally responsible and resource-efficient life cycle, from design to construction, operation to maintenance, and renovation to deconstruction. 

The European Space Agency’s “Green Buildings” opportunity offers support and funding to companies looking to develop services for sustainable built environments that can benefit from using space-based data. This opportunity enables companies to carry out in-depth analyses on the technical feasibility and economic viability of applications across a range of themes. 

Key focus areas: 

  • Monitoring a building’s energy consumption and environmental impact 
  • Using sensors and smart monitoring technologies to anticipate problems (natural hazards, land deformation) • Analysing a buildings’ surrounding natural (sun, soil, wind, water) and built (roads, local transportation) environment. 
  • 3D and offsite construction 
  • Retrofitting existing buildings to improve energy efficiency, reduce operational costs, and lessen negative environmental impacts. 
  • Determining a “go-to” renovation strategy (natural ventilation, renewable energy, smart grid applications) 
  • Planning ‘green’ neighbourhoods, which use green technology and recycling practices to preserve the environment and improve public health and safety. 

Ports of the future 

The port industry and shipping in general is undergoing important structural changes driven by the need of innovation. Major drivers are the pressure to reduce operating and capital costs, and the movement towards energy transition, which means that new players are targeting their focus on renewable energies and alternative fuels. Digital technologies are extending the range of innovation possibilities providing opportunities across the entire value chain, for example big data analytics can allow a renewed vision of the supply chains as well as predictive maintenance and automation which can reduce operational costs. 

Ports of the future addresses not only the operations at the port but also the activities for the transport of people and goods, shipbuilding, off-shore energy, air and water quality monitoring, and more generally, any automation and security activities that support the efficacy of these practices. The evolving port environment presents a lot of opportunities for the European industry to come up with new and innovative commercial solutions enabled by space. 

ESA Space Solutions is therefore launching a new Invitation to Tender, to assess the technical feasibility and economic viability of sustainable space-based services addressing the evolution of the port ecosystem. Such services shall be aimed at ensuring people safety, environmental sustainability, long-term economic growth and water security amongst others. Any resulting study is  also intended to establish the roadmap for service implementation through one or more potential follow-on demonstration projects. 

Key focus areas: Potential services should: 

  • Be enabled by space to support the evolution of the port of the future, including the use of imagery, radar technologies and weather data. 
  • Integrate space with terrestrial capabilities and other technologies as machine learning and artificial intelligence, to allow operators to reduce costs, risks, increase efficiency, connectivity, safety and security of port infrastructure. 
  • Develop sustainable solutions to reduce pollution of the air, water and soil in relation to shipping and transport capabilities, waste production and consumption of energy. 

The following scenarios have been identified as key focus areas: 

  • Port automation 
  • Connected ports 
  • Port infrastructure improvement 
  • Port safety and security 
  • Unmanned solutions 
  • Environmental impacts and energy efficiency

New solutions and services related to port activities and operations include the monitoring of the port activities, monitoring and tracking of the vessels,  creation of mapping images and bathymetry data, support for anti-piracy and search and rescue, fisheries activities monitoring and protection, and services for environmental protection and enforcement.