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Highwood Emissions turns greenhouse gas data into climate action

A picture of the HIghwood Emissions Management team, with founder and CEO Jessica Shumlich second from the left. (Courtesy HIghwood Emissions Management)

Calgary-based cleantech startup Highwood Emissions Management is hoping to spur on the decarbonization of Canada's oil and gas industry with its unique blend of emissions management software and advisory services.

The company was co-founded in September 2020 by CEO Jessica Shumlich, whose background is in the oil and gas industry. A “huge” advocate for sustainable resource development, Shumlich believes oil and gas producers will meet their “ambitious” climate targets.

But first, the industry needs the data about its emissions, which Highwood can provide.

The 2022 Foresight 50 venture offers a software-as-a-service product named the Emissions Management Toolkit. The platform creates a ‘digital twin’ of a company by capturing emissions data.

The simulation is examined to discover where the emissions are originating, such as methane leaks. Highwood Emissions can then step in to create a decarbonization roadmap for the client.

“We meet companies where they are on their emissions management journey," Shumlich explained. "Some companies might not understand how many pieces of equipment are on site; they might just be on the very first step, they might be posting their very first ESG report."

The Emissions Management Toolkit

After struggling to keep pace with the high demand on the consulting side of its business, Highwood Emissions developed its own software to help scale up its capabilities. Shumlich called it “the best problem to ever have.”

The toolkit is called the “base module,” serving as the inventory management system for carbon and methane emissions intensity across Scope 1 and 2 emissions.

She said different methods to capture emissions data — sensors, planes, drones, satellites and people — collect the information in their own way, shape and form. No current system could incorporate all the data from so many sources, as companies have different measurements and regimens, and deal with different regulations.

Shumlich said the EMT is unique because it "reconciles" data from disparate sources to fashion a concise, accurate view of a company’s emissions and how they change over time.

Once the data is compiled, the system creates a digital twin from the assets and flow rate to isolate sources of the emissions, an emissions baseline and an emissions profile. 

The Emissions Insight tool then visualizes the data via graphics and figures for ease of comprehension.

The full SaaS platform will launch on Jan. 16, according to Shumlich. Highwood Emissions’ goal is to have EMT implemented in every oil and gas company across the supply chain, with a vision to decarbonize the industry.

The advisory service

In Shumlich’s view, a key differentiator of Highwood Emissions from competitors is its advisory service.

She said Highwood's platform is “very complementary” to other emissions management companies. Clients can perform the checks with their own hardware or personnel, while Highwood's EMT can “ingest" the data and "utilize it and also help their clients better understand their emissions to build better plans.”

“Deploying measurement technology on your sites is expensive. So why not model it first to determine what the best outcome that you can get will be, before you actually deploy that solution?” she asked.

The advisory is aided by the Reductions Pathways module, a net-zero roadmap planning software to track and prove emissions reductions targets. It covers data mapping, finding an emissions baseline, scenario analysis and abatement strategies.

Shumlich said many companies do emissions inventory management, data storage and data visualization. But, Highwood Emissions can "provide the utilizations with long-term projections and forecasting and actually help them understand their profiles and then develop robust plans in order to set and meet their targets.”

Once Highwood Emissions develops a measurement campaign and looks at the costs and emissions reductions, it presents the proposal to the customer. It also helps achieve regulatory equivalency standards, she added.

What is next for Highwood Emissions

The company has three additional modules under development.

The first uses a database of 200 measurement technologies to determine actual emissions. The second helps companies understand and model 27 voluntary initiatives like certifications (MiQ Standard), commitments (Oil and Gas Methane Partnership 2.0) and guidelines (Veritas Protocols).

The third is a benchmarking module to compare a company against another firm's emissions.

Shumlich said Highwood Emissions has over 80 clients in primarily oil and gas or related services. It worked with firms such as Illinois-based GTI Energy to develop the Veritas initiative and with MiQ Standard for a tool to look at MiQ readiness.

It also served Crew Energy Inc. for its ESG report and wrote a report commissioned by the Environmental Defense Fund on the available methane detection technologies for pipeline leaks.

Highwood is growing rapidly, from just Shumlich and her business partner Thomas Fox in 2020 to 25 employees currently, with expectations for up to 30 workers by February.

The company has received some non-dilutive grants, according to Shumlich, though she declined to provide any specifics.

Highwood Emissions is currently in a Series A fundraising round.

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