U.S. Department of Energy Office of Science Office of Scientific and Technical Information

Multilateral Exchange of Energy Research Information


Brian A. Hitson
Chair, International Energy Agency (IEA) Energy Technology Data Exchange
(U.S. DOE Office of Scientific and Technical Information)

Networks of Expertise in Energy Technology (NEET) 
Workshop on Energy Technology Collaboration


Johannesburg, South Africa
21 February 2007


ETDE's History

  • ETDE was formed in 1987 as a multilateral energy R&D information exchange agreement, replacing numerous bilateral agreements.
  • Initially, 11 founding member countries; currently, 16 member countries plus “partners.”
  • A “cross-sectional” Implementing Agreement under the End-Use Working Party.

ETDE's Mission

Mission: “To provide governments, industry and the research community in the member countries with access to the widest range of information on energy research, science and technology and to increase dissemination of this information to developing countries.”


Current ETDE Member Countries


  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Korea, Republic of
  • Mexico
  • The Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Portugal
  • Spain
  • Sweden
  • Switzerland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States

 ETDE's "Product" – ETDEWEB

  • 3.8 million energy research, technology, and development (RTD) – the world's largest database of energy RTD information.
  • "ETDEWEB is clearly the information system of reference; many national Web sites on energy RTD link to ETDEWEB." (source: European Commission, May 2005, "Energy RTD Information Systems in the European Research Area")
  • Broad coverage of energy and environmental subjects:
    • "Renewables" – 225,202 records
    • "Fossil fuels" – 553,687 records
    • "Energy Planning, Policy and Economy" – 195,408 records
    • "Energy Conservation, Consumption and Utilization" – 166,833 records
    • "Environmental" – 252,860 records

ETDEWEB – Leading the Way to Worldwide Energy Technology Discoveries


Welcome to ETDE World Energy Base (ETDEWEB) where you can search and explore the growing collection of over 3,841,000 bibliographic records and more than 180,000 full-text documents!


Easy Search

The Easy Search is the simplest way to search the indexed full-text and full bibliographic records available in ETDEWEB with various sort options. Type a search term (or search phrase in double quotes), then choose the sort options by selecting your preference. Select the "Search" button to start the search. For additional information and tips, select Help.


Here in the easy search window, we're going to search on the terms "biofuels" or "biodiesel." This is a Boolean search that will pick up any records where either one of these words appears in the title, abstract, key words, or the full text. A side note about Boolean searching: if we wanted both of these words to appear in a given record, rather than either word, we would search on "biofuels and biodiesel" rather than "biofuels or biodiesel."


Search Results

The results screen tells you how many records are responsive to the search. In this case, we have 5,095 matches, and you can see how the results are presented. Each record will show the title, which is hyperlinked to the full record on this item. Usually, the author's name is hyperlinked so that, if you click on it, you can go to all items in the database by this author. To the left, if there is full text associated with the record, there will be either a PDF icon or a "link" icon, which usually means it's a journal article. This takes you to the publishers' Web site, where you can obtain the full text – sometimes for free, sometimes for a fee payable to the commercial publishers.


You can also see that these records are sorted by publication date, with the most recent items being at the top of the list. The alternative way of sorting is by relevance, where the records are ranked according to how often and how prominently the search term occurs in the record.


Advanced Search

This screen displays the different fields you can specify to really tailor and refine your search. I want to see records where the terms "switchgrass" or "wood" specifically appear in the title of a document. I could have added lots of other parameters relating to the author, abstract, sponsoring organization, and publication date range in an effort to reduce the results to just those few fitting my particular interest.


Search Results


On the results page, there are 6,136 results where either "switchgrass" or "wood" expressly appears in the title. Again, you can see links where the document itself can be obtained. And, by looking at the author field, you can get a sense of where research is occurring. Here, we have citations from Sweden, the U.S., and Japan.


Bibliographic Citation



From those same search results, this screen shows a full record from one of the citations that appeared a little further down on the previous screen. The full records gives you lots of information about the document, including the title, an abstract, what country it was published in, what language the document is in, the length of the document, and so on. At the top of the record, you can see a PDF icon, indicating that the full text can be accessed within ETDEWEB.


Fuel Handbook


On this screen, we go to the actual electronic full text, where one can see the document in its full color and scroll through, in this case, all 105 pages. The document is also free to be downloaded, copied, etc.


Search Results

Shown are a series of search results from several different terms. First there are results from searching on "hydrogen" and "fuel cells," meaning we want to see all these terms appearing in a record. And, you can see we got 9,862 matches. In any of these cases, where I'm showing thousands of matches, it's mainly to illustrate the breadth and volume of the database. Obviously, you would probably want to refine or narrow your search to something more manageable to review what may be relevant to you.


In Summary: Search Results


On this slide, the search is changed from "hydrogen" and "fuel cells" to "platinum" and "fuel cells," which yields 2,191 matches, and the first few records show results from Canada, France, and China – all with links where the full text can be obtained.


Search Results

Searching on the terms "energy efficiency" and "housing or houses" yields 3,047 matches. Further down on this list, there is a citation that shows a "link" icon.


Bibliographic Citation



On this record, you can see the "link" icon. Again, a "link" icon typically means this is a copyrighted journal article, in this case, from Sweden. Selecting the "link" icon, takes us to the publisher's Web site.


Available Abstract



In this case, the publisher's Web site is Elsevier. You can see the publishers' record, which includes title and abstract. On the right hand side, you can see links to the full text and to the PDF version. Depending on the publisher, the document may be free to view, or it might require a site license to see it, or it may be on a pay per view basis.


Search Results



This slide shows a search on the term "water heating." It demonstrates the geographical diversity reflected in our collection.


Bibliographic Citation



The record, "A Mobile Solar Water Heater for Southern Africa," is shown, and the authors appear to be from a university in South Africa. The reason this record is in the database, even though South Africa is not currently a member of ETDE, is that the article was published in the United Kingdom, which is an ETDE member. Member countries are required to include energy-related literature published in those countries.


Distributed Search


This search example demonstrates the power of our distributed search feature. As the title suggests, it gives the user a "one-stop" searching capability, where you can search all of ETDEWEB as well as up to six additional sources, which represent over 50 million pages of R&D output. For the most part, these are energy-focused sources, such as the Danish Energy R&D projects, IEA's information center, and the French Petroleum Institute. Some are very broad and include multiple scientific disciplines, such as CORDIS (the EU's R&D database), Science.gov, and Science Conferences. The default option is to search all of these sources, but you can also uncheck certain boxes if you don't want to search a particular source. This sample search uses the term "low-energy buildings."


Distributed Search (cont.)


Once the search is launched, the user will see a progress bar, which indicates how far the search has gone. Distributed searching typically takes a few seconds longer than just searching ETDEWEB, because the query is launching searches within all of these other sources, which then deliver their results to our search engine, which then has to sort them by relevance.


 Distributed Search Results


The results page shows the relevance ranking, indicated by stars. The relevance ranking algorithm gives greater weight to records where the term appears directly in the title, a little less weight if it appears only in the abstract, and of course, it factors in the frequency of how often the term appears in the record or full text.


In the results here, we see records from ETDWEB but also from CORDIS, the Danish Energy R&D projects database, and from the IEA energy information center. Just as in the ETDEWEB search, if the record includes the full text, you see an icon such as displayed here with the ETDEWEB and the IEA records.


Search Results

If you select one of those icons, as in this IEA record, you go directly to the full text. So, again, the distributed searching is a very nice way to search across multiple sources with just one search. And, we are constantly looking to add more sources to this feature.


ETDE Membership – Obligations and Benefits


  • Task-sharing: prepare and submit records of energy RTD activities published within the member country (from journals, technical reports, conference proceedings, books, etc.), including full text when available.
  • Cost-sharing: make contribution to cover annual cost of the exchange (i.e., primarily, ETDEWEB), consisting of “base” fee and “additional” contribution.

ETDE Membership – Obligations and Benefits (cont'd)


  • Staying abreast of recent developments in various research areas (including some basic sciences).
  • Avoiding duplication of research effort and learning from expected and unexpected results.
  • Jump-starting research at a point further along than anticipated.
  • Identifying which countries and people are involved in particular research areas.
  • Understanding how countries deal with energy-related environmental and climate change issues.
  • Contracting party has right to determine ETDEWEB access within its national borders.


  • ETDE welcomes and encourages South African membership.
  • ETDE celebrates 20th anniversary, culminating in public conference in Lisbon, July 2007.
  • ETDE appreciates the IEA's Networks of Expertise in Energy Technology (NEET) initiative.