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26/06/2024 News

Low-carbon energies, using AI to analyze the big bang of satellite data

At the CSTJF in Pau, a team of researchers from TotalEnergies observes and analyzes the Earth from Space, to provide innovative geospatial data. Anthony Credoz, Project Lead for Earth observation and Artificial Intelligence, is in charge of the DEMETER project, which provides an application to evaluate greenhouse gas emissions and detect potential gas leaks on site. The tool also serves in the prospection and monitoring of solar and wind energy production sites, as well as the observation of ecosystems around TotalEnergies’ facilities to assess the biodiversity, carbon storage and the development of water resources. Interview with Anthony Credoz.


Anthony, can you explain how this project came to be, and the resources you and your team used to develop it in the Company?

The DEMETER project emerged in 2019, as a result of the pioneering and innovative mindset of a handful of researchers at the CSTJF, who were studying the Earth from thousands of kilometers beneath its surface, up to hundreds and thousands of kilometers in its orbit. We had just finished a period of collaborative work with the ONERA, the French aeronautics, space and defense research lab, on the use of satellite and airborne imagery for the Company’s needs. A revolution was underway in the space sector, the ESA (European Space Agency) and the European Commission had launched several satellite missions that were to revolutionize the observation of the Earth from Space (Copernicus Program: Sentinel-1, Sentinel-2 and Sentinel-5P missions among others). Images taken by satellites at different acquisition frequencies (visible, infrared, radar) and at finer spatial resolutions, everywhere on Earth were all available for free. But the images alone were not enough for our new business applications, and we had to analyze this huge volume of data in a limited time frame. The DEMETER project was therefore created to juxtapose this colossal new satellite imagery resource, the expertise of our researchers, and the new artificial intelligence (AI) and Cloud-based computing tools. Three main avenues of research were identified: the detection and quantification of our greenhouse gas emissions, monitoring our environment in and around our installations (water resources, vegetation, biodiversity), and the prospection of sites that lend themselves to the development of onshore or offshore solar and wind farms.


The first version of DEMETER was released in-house in 2022. There must have been some serious progress in the space of two years. What’s the state of play today?

Yes, two years is a very long time when it comes to software development and progress in AI. When DEMETER 1.0 was released, we wanted to make it easy for all our colleagues in the Company to use the new resource of images from Space, to prospect and monitor our sites. The work was scientific, technical, and very instructive, based on the first algorithms to gauge the power of the combined technologies of Earth observation, AI and Cloud computing.

At the end of 2023, we released DEMETER 2.0, doubling the number of satellite image analysis products and making it easier for our colleagues to navigate the image bank. In 2024, we changed things so that our colleagues do not have to use a new application, but can tap into our analysis algorithms directly from their usual work environment - that’s part of the API (Application Programming Interface) revolution. Two years on, we are still tapping into the same source images, but the analysis algorithms we have developed meet more specific operational needs and are real decision-making tools. The links with our colleagues in operations have been strengthened, and the results of our work are transferred throughout the different Company branches.

Discover Anthony Credoz, Project Lead for Earth observation and Artificial Intelligence in Pau and the DEMETER project in video (in French).

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Anthony Credoz, chef de projet TotalEnergies en observation de la Terre...


In the video, you talk about your enthusiasm for maps and Earth observation. Can you tell us a bit about your career path and give us an idea of what a day in the life of Anthony Credoz is like?

My fascination for maps stems from a constant desire for exploration and adventure, which I’ve had since I was little. I discovered spatial imagery over 20 years ago now, during my engineering studies in Toulouse, and we were studying the development of forests and crops seen from Space, using the analysis tools available back then. Every day I biked around the CNES (French Space Center) facilities. It was a pretty good start. During my PhD and my first years as a consultant and researcher abroad I worked on complex issues surrounding the geological storage of CO₂, radioactive waste, or gases, sometimes several hundreds or thousands of kilometers beneath the Earth’s surface. However, I’ve always tried to maintain a link with the near subsurface and the potential impacts of these industrial activities on our environment, and satellite data was one of the ways of monitoring them. When I joined Total in 2015, at the PERL (Platform for Experimental Research in Lacq), researchers and managers from the CSTJF helped my climb the first rung of the ladder toward participating in the remote sensing adventure in the Company, alongside the research to be conducted on monitoring the key resources of soil and groundwater. And it’s been almost ten years now.

A typical day for me is one with the team, whose members are mostly based in Pau. Some of them were born there, while for others it’s almost like a second home. We work with enthusiasm on image physics, algorithms and ergonomics for our colleagues. We’re constantly on the alert to pick up the latest developments in the incredibly fast-changing Space, IT and AI sectors. We also accept the responsibility of transmission that we have to ensure, so that the results of our research are actually useful to our colleagues in operations. The challenges of reducing carbon emissions, and developing renewable, low-carbon energies, motivates the entire team, whether it’s in the Pau offices or at an international conference on the other side of the world.


You work at the CSTJF in Pau. What do you see as the specificities of this world-renowned center of expertise nestled between the Pyrenees and the Atlantic Ocean?

Our greatest resource today at the CSTJF, is the people who work there. We have hundreds of colleagues with a high level of expertise, based in Pau and Lacq, with world-renowned research infrastructures: the PANGEA adventure and the high-performance computing teams in Pau, or the pilot platform in Lacq used for controlled gas releases, agrivoltaics and water resources are two examples of what stimulates our researchers. We also have ideation, innovation and acceleration facilities for our projects in the Booster and the Fablab. That’s where we generally discuss the current and future missions for our drones. The region offers us test sites for satellite, drone and field acquisitions in industrial, agricultural and forest environments.

We also benefit from an exceptional regional setting on the coast, on the banks of the Gave, in the mountains or at the Hameau stadium in Pau, to relax with colleagues, look back on our successes and pave the way to the future.