The story behind RISE numbers

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You’d think the most important thing about putting together a global scorecard is, well, the scores of course.

My experience working on RISE – Regulatory Indicators for Sustainable Energy – taught me that it takes a lot more than just data to deliver a one-of-a-kind report.

But hang on. What’s RISE, you ask? RISE is a groundbreaking tool that helps assess government support for sustainable energy investments , which are critical to achieve sustainable energy goals by 2030.

Nothing to this scale has been done before. RISE covers 111 countries, which account for over 90 percent of global population and energy consumption .

My very first time getting familiar with this data was when I worked on the pilot version of RISE. We had decided the best way to get people to understand this endeavor was to get them to play a “Who Wants to be a Millionaire” style game, but with energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency data. What an eye opener. At that time, I thought the breadth of the pilot project -- 28 indicators, 85 sub-indicators and a 17-country coverage – was impressive.

Now, a year and half later, the pilot pales in comparison to the global rollout of RISE 2016.

That’s because RISE covers three overall scores, 27 indicators, 80 sub-indicators and 158 questions, besides combing through 3,000 documents  to capture the quality of the policy environment for energy access, renewable energy and energy efficiency in these 111 countries. We anticipate that number will continue to grow. RISE and its accompanying website will be an invaluable, one-stop destination for policymakers, researchers and developers  to make informed decisions for business development, policy design, research and investments.

The majority of RISE data was collected and provided to the World Bank by energy experts in each country. These experts were guided by an exhaustive questionnaire we developed to reflect the newly designated indicators and questions. To get there, we hosted online video training sessions with every consultant to explain the timeline, how to use the questionnaire, how to find answers and to answer any questions they had. Then, we carefully crafted a glossary of terms section where we identified and clarified ambiguous terms and technical jargon. For example, what do we mean by renewable energy “action plan”? What counts as solar resource map?

That led us to our final set of questions -- 72 pages, to be exact, to ensure we weren’t leaving out any key details.

All that is to show that the quality of data gathered for RISE is really the cornerstone of this entire project . The answers for all questions were found from primary source documents like original laws, regulations, government plans and strategies that are officially endorsed or legally in force. Where no documentation could be found, answers were sought through interviews with government officials or other high-placed stakeholders within the country’s energy sector. A minimum of two interviewees providing the same answer was required for an answer to be counted. Along with the submission of the questionnaire, country experts were required to provide a copy of the source documentation used to justify answers, with a citation (and translation if required) of the language used.

Two weeks after distributing the questionnaire, data started flowing back to us for validation, and the next step was to check the documentation for every answer.

After the initial internal validation, each country’s data was reviewed by the World Bank team and revised further if necessary. In countries without World Bank programs—primarily high-income country members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD)—the data was reviewed by independent experts with experience in the region.

In the end, RISE became a five-continent data collection that resulted in a groundbreaking global policy framework in renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy access . My hope is that policymakers around the world will use this data to ensure they have the right policies and regulations to help accelerate the world’s progress toward making access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy a reality for all.


Yao Zhao

Renewable Energy Pillar Lead for RISE at the World Bank

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