It is a happy coincidence that we are announcing on Earth Day our latest investment into Satellite Vu – who are launching a constellation of smallsats to monitor the heat loss of every building on the planet.

We believe that the Space sector – and in particular Space data - has a unique role to play in helping the world combat the systemic threat posed by climate change. Several of our other portfolio companies – including Spire, Iceye, Bamboo Systems and PlanetWatchers – are already heavily focused on using their technology to mitigate the effects of climate change.

Infrared offers a unique ability to look at the thermal signatures (i.e. how much heat is being emitted) of objects. This could be anything from seeing how much heat is being lost from a building due to poor insulation, through to detecting the illegal dumping of industrial waste into rivers and oceans.  

In spite of this potential, until now, infrared imaging from Space has been underexploited. Existing infrared imaging satellites have tended to be government-owned / operated, very large and expensive, and lacking the capability / resolution to image at the individual building / object level. Whilst other Space Tech start-ups are innovating in the infrared domain, this is mainly for wide area monitoring applications – such as agriculture or wildfire detection – where the imaging resolution can be much coarser (i.e at the individual field level).

We’ve backed SatelliteVu as their satellites are unique in costing 1/10th – 1/100th those of incumbent infrared satellites, whilst also having the ability to image at a high enough resolution to look at individual buildings. We believe this capability is a game-changer as it means for the first time it will now be economically viable to launch a constellation capable of measuring the thermal footprint of any building on the planet every few hours.

With buildings accounting for upwards of 40% of all carbon emissions, finding ways to make our buildings more energy efficient is critical in the drive towards net zero. By for the first time being able to measure how much heat (and therefore energy) any building is wasting, we anticipate SatelliteVu having an integral role to play in addressing this massive issue.

Indeed, SatelliteVu’s unique ability to ‘see’ inside buildings can be used to look at not just how much heat the building is emitting, but also to derive insights into what activity (if any) is occurring inside the building. Once its full constellation is deployed, this could allow SatelliteVu to effectively become the planet’s ‘energy meter’ - monitoring in near real time how energy is being both consumed and wasted within the built environment.

We are excited to see SatelliteVu start to deliver on this vision and in the process pioneer what we believe will become the next major category of Space data.