Duke Energy, Microsoft and Accenture announced a new collaboration to develop a solution encompassing artificial intelligence, cloud computing and satellite data, aimed at monitoring the methane emissions of natural gas distribution systems.

According to Duke, the new platform will augment the company’s 2030 goal, providing near-real-time data collection, enabling the rapid identification and repair of methane leaks.

Brian Weisker, Senior Vice President and Chief Operations Officer, Natural Gas at Duke Energy, said:

“This platform will re-imagine 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. The current industry standard uses calculated data to report methane emissions, which leaves room for inaccuracies when it comes to actual methane levels.”

According to the EPA, methane accounts for approximately 10% of all human-generated greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in the U.S. , with natural gas and petroleum systems representing 30% of the total. Last year, Duke set a goal to reach net zero methane emissions in its natural gas business by 2030 as one of the company’s key environmental sustainability commitments.

The Microsoft Azure cloud computing-based platform will track and prioritize data from multiple sources, including satellites, fixed-wing aircraft and ground-level sensing technology. Accenture, and its joint venture with Microsoft, Avanade, will help design the system, utilizing its experience in analytics, artificial intelligence and cloud computing.

Mark Schuler, Managing Director in Accenture’s utilities practice, said:

“Our work with Duke Energy and Microsoft demonstrates how technology, innovation and artificial intelligence can help address sustainability challenges. 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.”

Darryl Willis, Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Energy and Sustainability, added:

“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. 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.”