Energy groups share tips on best training practices for better energy statistics

12 December 2012

Twenty statistical organisations took part in the InterEnerStat meeting at the IEA. © OECD/IEA, 2012

Representatives of 20 organisations that track energy statistics shared how they are using newly agreed-upon definitions of energy products and flows when they gathered last week at the IEA for the sixth meeting of the InterEnerStat initiative. InterEnerStat, or International Energy Statistics, was launched in 2005 to increase international co-operation on energy statistics.

As harmonisation of definitions is critical to accurate statistical monitoring of energy because it allows direct comparisons across different organisations’ data, the meeting built on definitions approved by the United Nations Statistical Commission in February 2011 after years of discussions. Critical energy terms that different organisations have defined slightly differently include basic flows and products such as crude oil production and natural gas trade as well as electricity plants and coal.

Representatives of such groups as the European Union’s Eurostat, the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC),  the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the United Nations Statistics Division (UNSD), the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum and the International Energy Forum (IEF) joined the IEA to discuss how best to use the harmonised definitions in their own work. They focused on training activities because training is becoming more essential at a time of cuts in resources, frequent staff turnover and additional work for energy statisticians.

“There are similarities but also differences in how training is done,” Jean-Yves Garnier, head of the IEA Energy Data Centre, said of the organisations. “It was like a supermarket, where people took what they wanted from the experience of the others.”

Participants also agreed to refresh the InterEnerStat website to reflect the work done on harmonisation, open access databases, manuals and documents as well as on training. .

Back-to-back with the InterEnerStat meeting, the organisations held a brainstorming session on the quality of the data on solid biofuels, which include firewood and charcoal. Organisations estimate biofuels’ share in global energy consumption at around 9% to 10%. But with proper data, the share might prove much larger. Participants agreed that the data on solid biofuels need to be more accurate, given concerns about the impacts that under-estimated data could have on energy, social and environment policies. The issue will be discussed further at a World Solid Biofuels Workshop next year.