Lighting, heating, transport, industrial output: energy is vital for essential day-to-day services, without which we and our businesses cannot function. Turning on our computers or starting our cars are actions that we take for granted, yet they represent the final stage of a complex process.
First of all, energy resources have to be extracted from our environment. Primary energy sources are converted to derived products (for example crude oil into motor gasoline). Fossil, nuclear and renewable energies are also converted into electricity and derived heat. And then energy needs to be transported to the place where it will be used. All these step require coordinated involvement of technical, logistical and financial resources.
Energy is one of the main challenges Europe is facing. The prospects of rising energy prices and increasing dependence on imports could jeopardise the economy as a whole. EU countries are free to develop whatever energy sources they wish. They must, however, take account of the EU renewable energy objectives. The European Union is implementing energy policies geared towards:
- securing Europe's energy supply;
- ensuring that energy prices do not make Europe less competitive and energy remain affordable for consumers;
- protecting the environment and in particular combating climate change;
- improving energy infrastructure, such as energy grids.
Energy statistics is in the spotlight due to its strategic importance to the agenda of competitive and sustainable economic growth. In recent years the European Union faced several important energy issues that have pushed energy towards the top of national and European political agendas and where energy statistics provided crucial information for policy makers.
Energy is an essential part of the Europe 2020 strategy. It aims at "smart, sustainable, inclusive growth" with greater coordination of national and European policy. It includes the following energy related targets for 2020:
- increase the share of energy from renewable sources to 20%;
- reduce the primary energy consumption by 20% by improving energy efficiency;
- reduce the greenhouse gas emissions by 20% compared to the 1990 levels.
In 2014 the European Commission has presented a new EU framework on climate and energy for 2030. EU Heads of State and Government have agreed to the headline targets and the architecture for the EU framework on climate and energy for 2030. The proposal provides for a reduction in greenhouse gas emissions of 40 % below 1990 levels, an EU-wide binding target to increase the use of renewable energy to at least 27 % of total consumption and renewed ambitions for energy efficiency policies.
In order to meet the increasing requirements of policy makers for energy monitoring, Eurostat has developed a coherent and harmonised system of energy statistics. Annual, half-yearly and monthly data collections cover the 28 Member States of the EU, the candidate countries of Albania, Montenegro, Serbia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Turkey, and the European Economic Area countries of Iceland and Norway. Annual time-series run back to 1990.
The growing demands for energy data create a challenge for statisticians. Often conflicting priorities have to be taken into account. If the resources were infinite it would be easy to respond to all user needs. The cost effectiveness of the development, production and dissemination of statistics is often highlighted as one of the governing principles. This means that the production of statistics and the related reporting burden must be in proportion to the importance of the results and the benefits sought.
Keeping this in mind Eurostat organised a Task Force on the Future of Energy Statistics in the period 2013-2014. A similar work was performed in the period 1999-2000.