International energy statistics in abundance
The three-day meeting was held in a hotel in Leidschendam-Voorburg. Representatives from 25 countries and five organisations – including Eurostat and the International Energy Agency (IEA) – attended various presentations and listened to keynote speaker Foppe de Haan. As strategist for the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy, the energy transition in the Netherlands is his prime focus. The most important objectives of the Oslo Group, which was set up in 2005, are to improve the comparability of international energy statistics, to investigate the uniform use of new external data sources for these statistics and to develop best practices.
Recommendations for promoting uniformity
"There are energy-related international statistics in abundance", says Otto Swertz, Head of Energy Statistics at CBS and co-organiser of the meeting. "For example, those of the UN, the IEA and Eurostat, who make use of data from official national statistics agencies, like CBS. However, because these agencies work with different standards and definitions, it is not very easy to compare them." In 2011, the Oslo Group therefore made recommendations to promote uniformity in the methodology used for compiling energy statistics; these recommendations were set out in the International Recommendations for Energy Statistics (IRES).
Important objective of Oslo Group is to investigate the uniform use of new data sources for compiling energy statistics
Because the energy market is constantly in a state of flux, every year the Oslo Group discusses what new recommendations should be added to the IRES. In Leidschendam-Voorburg, the digitisation of society and its effect on energy statistics was discussed, among other things. "It is important that we make timely agreements regarding new developments", Swertz says. "And not only from the point of view of comparability. We also want to avoid countries having to reinvent the wheel every time." The processing of external administrative sources (such as big data) was also on the agenda. "For example, a lot of solar energy is generated in Africa", Swertz explains. "But the solar panels there are rarely connected to the mains network, so how are you going to analyse the energy generated in that case? We are trying to find solutions to these sorts of problems, too."
CBS researcher Anne Miek Kremer kept her audience riveted with presentations on the use of data originating from a register for energy statistics. CBS is one of the global frontrunners in this field. It is able, for instance, to analyse Dutch natural gas and electricity consumption right down to postcode level – with due observance of privacy, of course. To this end, it makes use of the Central connections register, on which all network managers collaborate. "These are data that are used for a purpose other than statistics", Swertz says. "But CBS can make these data suitable for official statistics by, among other things, distinguishing between homes, companies and categories of companies." Kremer also brought two recent CBS innovations to everyone's attention. The first concerned the analysis of the natural gas and electricity consumption per square metre of floor surface per type of home and the second concerned the possibility of indicating the capacity of solar panels in each municipality. "We use big data for this", Swertz adds. "Both innovations have won a lot of admiration."