The energy market in the United States is rapidly changing, and we are seeing a growing number of projects in the renewable energy sector. In fact, reports have suggested that solar energy in the U.S. is on track to more than double in the next five years. However, across the country, energy projects have also stalled out due to various bumps in the road – from permitting delays to slow construction. So, while there is a large appetite for financing a more sustainable energy future, the transition towards renewables has, at times, been shrouded in uncertainty for investors.
Energy investors are often looking for accurate and timely information regarding the status of renewable energy projects, and Texas-based Lium Research, is now changing how these projects are monitored to deliver key insights using satellite data. The organization specializes in predictive, data-informed research that aims to help large-scale investors that are deploying capital into the solar and renewable energy industry. While they previously sorted through interconnection queues, government filings, and energy information databases, Lium turned to Planet to gain near real-time awareness of the renewable energy sector.
“Our product provides insights into what may be happening on the ground that an investor may not be able to see or hear when just going through typical routes, like talking to management teams, or reading through financial statements. Investors can rely on us to give them a different perspective,” explained Daniel Cruise, Partner at Lium Research.
Using Planet satellite data, Lium Research is capturing daily imagery of renewable energy projects, enabling them to analyze critical details of construction timelines and operations. “From these images, we’re able to discern whether or not solar projects are starting construction, if they are getting certain equipment delivered to the field, and we’re able to see if projects are actually getting solar panels installed at those locations,” shared Cruise.
Lium Research is bringing a new level of timely reporting to the market. Their team explained that while most of the investor industry uses publicly available data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA) to get updates on renewable energy projects, they feel that this information source may not always provide the most accurate or timely data for investors. Using both our high-resolution tasked SkySat data and our medium-resolution, daily PlanetScope data, Lium Research was able to identify sites reported on by the EIA, and determine that the data regarding these construction projects was not completely up-to-date or certain projects had not started yet.
“We can see with a satellite image that there is no solar facility there. We’re able to count out [the facilities] and make that data better,” explained Cruise, noting how they are able to verify EIA reports or clarify the actual timelines.
“Being able to track the progression of these projects that we’re looking at in almost real time is a huge benefit for us. Others might have a week delay, but with Planet, maybe we get a cloud here and there, but that’s just one day. We probably have a picture the next day or the following,” said Ethan James, Associate Analyst at Lium Research.
Ethan noted that Planet imagery and its Explorer platform made their analysis easy. “It’s super simple to use. It’s pretty customizable to what you’re looking for date wise, exact location, being able to transpose two images over each other and track, see what changed. That’s a really cool feature. Success for us would be becoming a leading research firm in our field, and by using Planet, I think getting there is definitely possible as long as we have imagery that stays of the highest quality, which is what Planet has provided.”
By using Planet data, Lium Research is demonstrating how daily satellite imagery can enable new market opportunities for the energy and investment space and help us as a society effectively transition to a renewable energy future by bringing greater visibility to the sector.