Nine months ago, one of our consultant integrated VITO for a one-year mission. The R&D centre researches topics like material use, hydraulics, renewable energy, new energy technologies, etc. Amongst others, it conducts studies that aim to aid policymakers in their decision-making processes.

With a background in smart electrical networks and systems, our consultant’s objective is to find a way to facilitate the study of the impact of evolving renewable energy sources in Europe over the past 15 years. In other words, he needs to create a brand-new database that contains all the relevant data for the study, per EU country and per year between 2005 and 2020. He will include information such as data on energy production and consumption per energy technology (wind, solar, heat pump, biomass…), the amount of fuels consumed per technology, population and GDP data (e.g. to compute ratios per capita), and collect data from the SHARES tool provided by EU member states themselves… This will allow VITO to summarize the results of the study in a report, on behalf of its own client, the European Environmental Agency (EEA).

To get there, it is necessary to proceed methodically: understand the type of data that will need to be reported on, collect the data from European databases like Eurostat or the EEA dataset, interpret this data with proper research and understanding of how they have been built, find an optimal tool to create the database, and then gather only the necessary data in this database. Tableau has been chosen as being the most efficient software to use for the EEA’s longitudinal study, as it drastically reduces the time needed for data processing compared to tools such as Excel. In the end, it will be possible to understand how energy technologies have improved in terms of production, consumption or GHG emissions for instance.

On top of this, VITO compares data of the EU members with the targets exposed in the European Renewable Energy directive. If not aligned and based on the reason behind it, the R&D centre suggests corrective action to the member state.

Our consultant enjoys his project because he can put his programming skills to use while developing his expertise on energy policies (that he initially obtained volunteering at InnoEnergy[1]). He increases his understanding of the dynamics hiding behind energy-related decision-making. In sum, through his mission in an R&D centre, he discovers the many variables that enter the game before a decision can be made on a European level, which he describes as both frightening and fascinating at the same time.

[1] He launched, with other passionate people, the energy policy program at InnoEnergy. The latter is a community aiming to enhance knowledge on energy policies thanks to a collaborative platform and events.