Power Transition Trackers

Country/area: United Kingdom

Organisation: Energy Monitor

Organisation size: Small

Publication date: 8/11/2021

Credit: Nick Ferris, Josh Rayman

Biography: Nick Ferris is a data journalist at Energy Monitor, based in London. He has previously worked at Greenpeace Unearthed, The MailOnline and The Straits Times. He is a graduate of the MA in Investigative Journalism at City University.

Josh Rayman is a data visualisation developer at GlobalData & New Statesman Media Group.

Project description:

Based on a vast power plant dataset, we mapped out all new power plants in the development across the world in three interactive data stories, to allow readers to track how the energy transition is taking place around the world in a clear and unique format.

Impact reached:

The rollout of the trackers coincided with the first week of COP26, providing a unique, data-led and broad perspective on the energy transition at a time when the world’s focus was on that very issue. They were some of Energy Monitor’s most-read stories of the year, receiving thousands of views and a significant impact across social media.

Techniques/technologies used:

The data was meticulously collected by a team of analysts at analytics company GlobalData, which gave Energy Monitor exclusive access to its database.

The graphics were built using Svelte and Layercake (d3.js). The text — including links and formatting — was written in Google Docs, converted to markdown, and then parsed using archieML to create an output script that could be revised externally by editors and sub-editors without having to edit the final HTML markup.

What was the hardest part of this project?

This trio of scrollable stories was the first time the team has created a reusable scrolly format. The format is often labour intensive, as the animated transitions are often not re-used from project to project, so the only reusable code is the step trigger itself. With the dataset we had available, it was soon clear we could create three stories split up geographically, whilst preserving large sections of the logic and layout.

Processing the dataset with tens of thousands of datapoints also has its challenges, particularly as there are uncertainties around what can be constituted as a ‘pipeline’. We had to check in with analysts and cross-references with other market research.

What can others learn from this project?

The project allows other journalists to contextualise their work in the energy space with the broader global energy transition. By regularly contextualising what we were showing within the International Energy Agency’s net-zero models in the write-ups, we ensured the trackers were relevant to other analysts’ work on the energy transition. The aggregated upcoming capacity at the bottom of the analysis represents a clear and comparable benchmark of where the energy transition stood in countries at the time of COP26.

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