Has Europe Delivered a Setting for the Next Alpha Industry? Who are the Early Adopters and Are there Unicorn Start Ups?
Picking Alpha continues earlier conversation with Mr. Philippe Brunet, Director for Space Policy, Copernicus and Defence at the European Commission, European Commission DG for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Directorate I – Space Policy, Copernicus and Defense.
Do you think that using space technologies can give opportunity for much faster growth (than currently planned) in the renewable energy sector? Has commission estimated this growth potential?
I am confident that Space technologies and Copernicus in particular will stimulate much faster growth also in the renewable energies sector. The European renewable energy industry has created around 147 billion EUR turnover in the EU in 2015 and employed 8.1 million people in 2012.
We already know that there is an increasing global demand for energy that is leading to an increase in competition also in the renewable energies market. For this reason, users need to cut costs and optimise production and that’s where Copernicus comes in. It can contribute to improving the production of renewable energies by making them more cost-efficient and more productive and this, in turn, contributes to reducing dependence on fossil fuels.
For the companies that develop applications based on Earth Observation data for the energy sector, Copernicus already represents 8% of their businesses and we know that this figure is going to grow as more satellites will become operational.
Just to give you a few practical examples:
Forecasts based on Copernicus data are already generating 50% more benefits to solar energy producers than the traditional meteorological forecasts. Copernicus may also be used to select renewable energy sites, to trace biomass along the value chain, for infrastructure maintenance (solar and wind farm, dams etc.) as well as to monitor biomass production. All of this is possible thanks to the full, free and open data that Copernicus offers.
How do you foresee that in transition period Space technologies can influence clean gas and oil technologies creation?
The oil & gas sector is one of our most important user communities. Interestingly, Copernicus can both reduce their impact on the environment and improve their revenues. This is a typical win-win situation.
For example, when doing large scale prospecting in onshore and offshore explorations, Earth Observation data enables for increased efficiency and greater confidentiality compared to sending helicopters or boats over specific areas.
Copernicus can also be used when developing and monitoring infrastructures, it helps to increase the overall safety, reduces risks of disasters and protects the workers and the environment. Also in exploration and drilling activities Copernicus can be used to monitor coastal ecosystems, marine habitats, pollution at sea and so on.
The benefits of Copernicus in the oil & gas sector grow at 24% each year. Until 2020 we expect Copernicus to generate in this sector more than 100 million EUR benefit per year.
For our investor readership: Are there any opportunities for creating stimulus for the inflow of private investments into space technologies sector?
We support entrepreneurs in all stages of the development of their businesses. In the framework of the Copernicus Start-Up programme, there are many measures that we have put in place in order to promote the use of Copernicus data. For example: the Copernicus Prizes, that will be awarded for the first time this year will support a new generation of innovative businesses; the Copernicus Accelerator is a programme that offers a unique coaching service delivered by professionals; the Copernicus Hackathons are events in which computer developers use Copernicus data to develop innovative software or applications in very little time and finally there are the Copernicus Incubators that support commercially-promising business applications.
All these initiatives are already creating new opportunities for start-ups and SMEs and are helping to create growth and jobs.
We are also discussing support for private equity funds in the space sector with the European Investment Bank.