Data Collection and Validation
REN21 has developed a unique renewable energy reporting culture, allowing it to become recognised as a neutral data and knowledge broker that provides credible and widely accepted information. Transparency is at the heart of the REN21 data and reporting culture, and the following text explains some of the GSR’s key processes for data collection and validation.
Production of REN21’s GSR is a continuous process occurring on an annual basis. The data collection process begins following the launch of the previous year’s report with an Expression of Interest form to mobilise REN21’s GSR contributors. During this time, the GSR team also prepares the questionnaires that will be filled in by contributors. The questionnaires are updated each year with emerging and relevant topics as identified by the REN21 Secretariat.
REN21 collects data in five main ways:
1. Country questionnaire. In the country questionnaire, contributors from around the world submit data on renewable energy in their respective countries or countries of interest. This covers information about annual developments for renewable energy technologies, market trends, policy developments and local perspectives. The questionnaire also collects data related to energy access from respondents with a focus on developing and emerging countries, covering the status of electrification and clean cooking, as well as policies and programmes for energy access and markets for distributed renewables. Each data point is provided with a source and verified independently by the GSR team. Data collection with the country questionnaire typically begins in October.
2. Peer review. To further collect data and project examples and to ensure that significant developments have not been overlooked, GSR contributors and reviewers participate in an open peer review process that takes place twice during each report cycle. The first round typically occurs in January and includes Round 1 chapters such as Policy Landscape, while the second round is held typically in March/April and includes Round 2 chapters such as Global Overview and Market and Industry Trends. Peer review is open to all interested experts.
3. Expert interviews. REN21’s global community consists of a wide range of professionals who provide their expert input on renewable energy trends in the target year through interviews and personal communication with the REN21 GSR team and chapter authors. The vast majority of the information is backed up by primary sources.
4. Desk research. To fill in remaining gaps in the GSR and to pursue new topics, the REN21 GSR team and chapter authors conduct extensive desk research. Topics of research vary widely between GSR years and depend on emerging topics, important trends and annual availability of formal or informal data in the target sector.
5. Data sharing agreements. REN21 holds several data sharing agreements with some of the largest and most reliable data providers/aggregators in the energy sector. These formal data are used exclusively in some cases or, in others, form the foundation of calculations and estimations presented in the GSR.
REN21 ensures the accuracy and reliability of its reports by conducting data validation and fact-checking as a continuous process. Beginning during the first submission of the country questionnaires, data are continually verified up through the design period and until the final report is published. All data provided by contributors, whether written or verbal, are validated by primary sources, which are published alongside the full report.