Space-based Technology and Infrastructure

India is a leading space-faring country, offering numerous opportunities for companies and research institutions. The convergence of new and cheaper satellite technology, talent, capital and open markets brings significant momentum for international collaboration and innovation with one of the world’s rising space powers.

Space Tech

Space tech covers a range of technologies which can be used for solving societal challenges, including climate forecasting, disaster management, geological and oceanographic studies and communication.

The main technologies in space tech involved are cheaper and smaller satellites (nanosatellites), precise navigation systems and artificial intelligence for satellite image analysis. More liberal space policies along with commercial launching systems and services additionally open up for new possibilities developing space-based applications with India.

Why is this interesting?

Recent advancement in nanosatellites and artificial intelligence – especially in computer vision – has made it more interesting and affordable to use space technology. By employing earth observation and remote sensing, space-based technology is increasingly used to forecast and mitigate damages of climate change including agriculture monitoring, weather forecasting and urban planning. Additionally, space exploration helps researchers enhance their understanding of atmosphere, geology and the potential for future exploration and plays a vital role in education and research.

India’s national Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has proven its ability to manage complex space missions on low budget, and its Mars Orbiter Mission in 2013 was a technological breakthrough that cost around 10% of a similar mission by NASA and ESA.

India has a strong emerging tech ecosystem and with its 2023 Space Policy, the country aims for increasing its share of the global space economy from 2% to 10% by 2030. Today, the Indian space ecosystem includes more than 400 companies and governmental institutions centered around Bangalore including ISRO.

How Far Are we?

Policy: With the newly launched National Space Promotion and Authorisation Centre (IN-SPACe), India has initiated a single-window agency between ISRO and Non-Government Entities. Countries already involved in the Indian space program include France, the Netherlands, Italy, UK, Australia and Sweden.

Entrepreneurship: India is home to more than 100 space start-ups, working with rocket launches, earth observation and in-space mobility. An example is Pixxel, which has launched hyperspectral earth imaging satellites onboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Additionally, Airbus has established an accelerator program for startups in Bangalore. 

Investment:  The government has allocated USD 1.51 billion for space activities in its 2023-24 budget, and Indian investors poured USD 119 million in Indian space start-ups in 2022. In June 2023, Google entered the Indian Space Tech market by leading a USD 36 million Series B funding in Pixxel.

Corporate: Private companies can take advantage of ISRO’s established supply chain of manufacturing and testing satellites and spacecraft. Large IT and manufacturing firms like Tata group, Mahindra group and Hindustan Aeronautics have dedicated space arms.

Academia: India has a number of strong R&D institutes e.g. Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST) and Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (IIRS). Denmark’s IT University is collaborating with the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Mandi in remote satellite imaging for agriculture.

TechPlomacy perspectives: Space systems are crucial for the functioning of our societies, our economy and our security. At the same time, space is becoming an increasingly contested and competitive domain fuelled by a significant reduction in the costs of space-capable technologies and new opportunities in terms of economic development as well as for security and defence. As significant investments and increasing profitability of space technology continues, the pace of innovation will continue to rise – and so will strategic competition between countries. The fundamental international policy challenge is that space technology is already moving faster than international governance. Tests of anti-satellite weapons, thousands of satellites in orbit, earth-based infrastructures dependent on space technology, and an increasing launch rate will increase the scope of threats and risks related to space as well as the opportunities. A key task for policy-makers in the coming decades will be to mitigate these challenges, avoid a hostile environment in space and exploit its opportunities while taking into account the new significant role of private actors and companies in space. 

It is hard to grasp all the development that has occurred within only the past year in CDR.

The federal government is among the most important drivers. To reach the US’s climate targets, is required to capture between 400 million and 1.8 billion tonnes of CO2 annually by 2050, up from 20 million tonnes today [10]. To reach this scale, the US government has announced several noteworthy initiatives. One of them being the ‘Inflation Reduction Act’ and the 45Q tax credit for CDR and DAC. That gives a unique opportunity for CDR start-ups to receive a tax credit per tonne of CO2 permanent removed and stored: USD 85 through CDR and USD 180 for DAC. [12].

At state level, several states have expressed strong interest in leading the way on the roll-out of DAC, however California is leading the way [1]. California is among the most advanced states in CDR on both policy, research and development, as well as action [1]. Last year, California adopted a framework on reduction in emissions by 2045, with 15 percent to be addressed through CDR under strict oversight, amounting to 75 million tonnes of CO2 per year by 2045. Also worth mentioning is the Carbon Dioxide Removal Act (SB308), which would be a key legislation for CDR at the state level [1]. If approved the bill would require high-emitters to compensate for 100 % of their emissions from 2045 [13].

A trial scale DAC plant was announced in March 2023. The plant is capable of removing 500.000 metric tonnes of CO2 from the atmosphere per year and is opening in Texas [4].

Simultaneously, more and more CDR start-ups are emerging. 95 start-ups have graduated from the CDR accelerator run by the organisation AirMiners, and together they have raised USD 57 million of venture capital and grants [5]. Furthermore, the Carbon XPRIZE, a USD 100 million competition to scale carbon removal, funded by Elon Musk, is also expected to spur innovation.  

From an investment perspective, CDR is seen as a trillion dollar opportunity and CDR may attract USD 150 billion in investments globally this decade, according to a prediction by Wood Mackenzie [7]For instance, venture capital firm Lower carbon Capital announced in April 2022 that they raised a USD 350 million venture fund dedicated to carbon removal start-ups [8].

At the same time the market of carbon credits is growing with large technology companies leading the way.

  • The initiative Frontier is a notable player, a so-called Advance Market Commitment (AMC) that was launched by Stripe, Alphabet, Shopify, Meta, and McKinsey & Company. On May 18 2023, Frontier announced the first offtake agreement of a USD 53 million deal with Charm Industrial [9].
  • On May 15, 2023, Microsoft said that they would purchase (for an undisclosed sum) 2.7 million tonnes of carbon captured over a decade from biomass-burning power plants run by Orsted, and pumped underneath the North Sea by a consortium involving Equinor, Shell and TotalEnergies.
  • And later in May 2023 JP Morgan announced to spend more than USD 200 million on a combination of carbon removal technologies equal to 800.000 metric tons of CO2 [11].

In academia, the global peer-reviewed CDR scientific literature now consists of over 28,000 English-language studies, growing at a faster rate than that for climate change as a whole [3]. Again, California is leading the way with technology roadmaps, technologies and programs for Carbon Removal California’s research institutions, including Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Lab, UC Berkeley and Stanford University.

CDR is a group of many different technologies, ranging from TRL 0 to 7. At the same time, it can be said that there still have not been invented solutions that are scalable and energy efficient enough to reach our goals.

Let’s connect

Please reach out to Anandita Prakash at anapra@um.dk and Søren Tranberg Hansen at sortha@um.dk. We, at ICDK Bangalore, offer our services to both corporates, SMEs and academic partners looking to dive further into the area of emerging technologies.

Global Tech Trends conference on 12.SEPTEMBER

Innovation Centre Denmark launched our Global Tech Trends platform in collaboration with TechSavvy.media, which gathers 12 unique descriptions of technological trends from all over the world. You can learn more from the people behind the reports at our Global Tech Trends conference on September 12th.

WHEN

12TH OF SEPTEMBER, 11:30 AM - 5.30 PM

WHERE

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