Aviation | Solving soil problems from space

Canada and Quebec are very active in the space industry, and companies in the sector concentrated in Greater Montreal do business in different countries to tackle all kinds of problems. Overview.

Posted at 8.00

Martine Letarte

Martine Letarte
special cooperation

Heat waves, hurricanes, forest fires: As the effects of climate change begin to become more and more visible and worrying, companies are feeling the pressure to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. To help them meet this challenge, Montreal company GHGSat has developed a system for detecting and measuring their greenhouse gas emissions using satellites.

“Large companies promise their shareholders that they will reduce their greenhouse gas emissions, even that they will become zero-emission companies by 2030 or 2050, so they have to track their progress,” explains Stéphane Germain, CEO of GHGSat.

The company focuses on methane.

We could also measure carbon dioxide, but the commercial demand is actually to measure methane, which in the short term has an effect between 80 and 85 times greater on climate change.

Stéphane Germain, CEO of GHGSat

The company founded in 2011, which has about 100 employees worldwide, two-thirds of whom are in Quebec, has several major industrial players among its customers. “We have them in Europe, the United States, Asia and western Canada,” says Stéphane Germain. We do not yet have any in Quebec, but there are business opportunities, especially with landfills and refineries. »

To carry out this monitoring, GHGS has currently put five commercial satellites into orbit, in addition to the first one launched in 2016 for demonstration purposes. The company plans to have 10 commercial satellites in orbit by the end of 2023.

“Our satellites are in high resolution to allow us to attribute emissions to the correct source and not to the neighboring company,” he explains. To also see in width, we need more satellites. »

A business ecosystem

GHGSat is an example among many Quebec companies active in the space industry. Recently, Aéro Montréal, Québec’s space cluster, mapped companies in the space sector and identified 178 of them, ie. 62, which are SMEs with less than 100 employees and 116 institutions, research centers or non-profit organizations.

“Among these companies, 57% work upstream, so research, design or manufacture earth or space systems,” said Suzanne Benoit, President and CEO of Aéro Montréal.

The other companies work downstream. “They perform satellite operations, offer value-added applications, products or services, especially in the field of Earth observation and telecommunications,” she adds.

The space sector companies in Quebec are 72% concentrated in Greater Montreal. “This allows for close collaboration between companies, universities and research centers,” says Suzanne Benoit.

The presence of the Canadian Space Agency in Longueuil also breathes dynamism into the industry. For example, almost 40 years after the Canadian space arm, Canadarm, made Canada famous, it awarded the Canadian company MDA the contract to build Canadarm3, a two-armed robot system for the space station. International Lunar Gateway.

In the Quebec region, we have also developed a large force in optics-photonics, especially thanks to the presence of the National Institute of Optics.

“Canada and Quebec continue to demonstrate their know-how in space,” said Suzanne Benoit. This is a good thing, because it is a growing sector in the world, as it makes it possible to find solutions to our current challenges. »

Learn more

  • 1000 billion American
    US bank Morgan Stanley estimates that global space industry revenues will reach $ 1 trillion by 2040.

    source: Morgan Stanley

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