ICM put out their weekly EU online poll today. Topline figures were REMAIN 45%, LEAVE 45%, DON’T KNOW 10% and tabs are here. ICM have tended to produce some of the most leave figures and the neck-and-neck result actually follows on from a series of polls showing a small leave lead, but this is due to a change in methodology.

As is often the case, ICM’s poll is actually less interesting than Martin Boon’s commentary that accompanies it – Martin’s response to the polling errors of last year has been one of the most candid and interesting of the pollsters, if occasionally one of the most pessimistic. In his article today he writes about what he considers to be the bleak future for phone polling given how people use the telephone these days, but also writes about the problems ICM have encountered moving most of their EU referendum polling to online.

Specifically Martin writes about how when ICM set online surveys live on Friday nights they get a rush of fast respondents that are skewed towards Leave. These entirely fill some of the demographic quotas set for the poll, meaning there is no room for the slower responding Remain respondents. To tackle this ICM have made two changes – one is to their sampling (they will spread it across the whole weekend, rather than opening it fully on Friday), the other is to weight respondents by how quickly they respond. According to Martin’s commentary the overall effect of this is to improve Remain’s relative position by four points.

I should point out (as Martin does in his article) that this is very much an issue to do with the way ICM carry out their online polls. Other online companies won’t necessarily do things the same way or face the same issues. I can only speak confidently about YouGov’s systems, but I know YouGov’s don’t invite respondents to specific surveys, they have a system that sends invites to respondents automatically, ensuring a constant flow of respondents into YouGov’s system. This means when people click on their invite (be it immediately, after a few hours, or days later) they are sent into whatever YouGov surveys are open at the time and need someone matching their demographics – hence when YouGov surveys go live they get a mixture of both fast respondents and slower respondents, who may have actually been invited before the survey was even written.

There was also a new contribution to the ongoing mystery of the gap between online and telephone polls on the EU referendum, this time from Prof Pat Sturgis (the Chair of the recent BPC/MRS inquiry into the polling error) and Prof Will Jennings (who served on the inquiry). It can be read in full here, but Pat and Will conclude that “While there are of course many caveats required here, this comparison suggests that the true picture may lie somewhere between the two modes, possibly somewhat closer to online. At the very least it suggests a good deal of caution is needed before concluding that one method is right and the other wrong. That will only be known for sure on June 24.”


439 Responses to “ICM – Remain and Leave level pegging, and dealing with fast respondents”

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  1. Batteries. Here we go…..

    There is no question that battery technology is improving and costs are falling. There is a little care needed, as the price falls may be influenced by tougher market conditions, rather than technological advances, and as a result be reversed when take up booms, but overall I think there is no doubt that we are approaching the time when battery technology has imporved sufficiently to deliver cars of a decent range and capability at a price that becomes attractive.

    However, the issue I have always had with wholesale take up of electric vehicles is that it isn’t just the technology itself that needs to get to a suitable market ready stage. Once the technologies are market ready, we then need to consider the fuel position.

    I’ve done some number crunching on the UK position, and it may make for some sobering reading for those thinking that electric cars are the future.

    According the Department of Transport, in 2014 cars (not other road vehicles) used 12m tonnes of petrol and 8m tonnes of diesel. The energy content of these fuel volumes combined equates to 261,320 GWh.

    It’s going to be a long time until all cars are electric, but however many there are, the power has to come from somewhere. If we get to say, 20% EV’s, then we need to replace 52,264GWh pa of road fuel with electricity. Divide this by the number of hours in a year to give a rough average energy demand, and we get 6GW. Allowing for conversion losses and grid transmission losses would probably add 20% to this (guesswork here) suggesting that there would need to be an additional 7.25GW of constant generation capacity added to the grid.

    This is something of a false figure, as when cars are driven they are not charging, so in reality it’s likely when there would be relatively low demand from car charging (rush hour) and consequently higher demand at normal charging periods (overnight). However, modelling this would be difficult.

    The current peak demand on the national grid is around 54GW, and we are already running on wafer thin margins at peak times. If we assume the 20% of road mileage charging is only done for 8 hours over night, so no impact on peak demand periods but the constant average hourly EV demand squeezed into just 8 hours, the instantaneous energy demand would need to be just shy of 22GWh.

    Last night the quietest time on the national grid in the early hours saw demand of around 27GW, and if we add 22GW to this you start to get very close to the peak demand levels we have such difficulty meeting. And this is just to meet the demand if we switch 20% of car travel from oil based fuels to EV’s.

    There are benefits from having a large fleet of EV”s that can introduce variable demand and even send power back into the grid at peak times, so EV’s can be viable not only on an individual level but also on a national scale as part of the energy mix, but clearly any significant uptake and use of EV’s will need substantial planning and investment in grid production and management systems. Such systems won’t just be technical – they will have to include the behavioural management of EV owners too.

    To really make EV’s work on any kind of scale is going to need detailed planning. Energy policy and national grid management is the one area where the UK has failed completely to create any detailed planning. This should worry EV enthusiasts, regardless of the state of battery technology.

  2. WB
    OK, I’m not going to quibble over arcane aspects of history. The general point remains that England in particular has been free of significant invasion, and has had a form of parliamentary democracy for centuries longer than many European countries have even existed – Germany, Italy and Belgium spring to mind immediately.

    Therefore Sovereignty and democracy are a more important factor in the referendum than they might be in many other EU countries. This could be one explanation for the ‘harder’ Leave vote. That was all I was trying to say.

  3. Meanwhile there’s a new EU poll from YouGov that came out yesterday:

    https://d25d2506sfb94s.cloudfront.net/cumulus_uploads/document/8j6845m5qq/TimesResults_160524_EURef&ToryLeadership_W.pdf

    Remain 41% (-3)

    Leave 41% (+1)

    Would not vote 4% (+1)

    Don’t know 13% (+1)

    Changes from last week (16-17 May)

    As so often what filter you them choose to use will make a difference. Leave is stronger among the 10/10 LTV (76% v 70%), while including 7-9/10 evens things up again

    As usual this is mostly demographic. The groups less likely to definite about both their intention (women, younger voters) are also those most pro-EU. Whether this will also be reflected in actual voter turnout is another matter[1].

    Interestingly more people still see leaving as more risky than safe, bad for jobs and so on. In the main this is caused by Remain supporters being more likely to pessimistic while Leavers are more likely to be neutral rather than saying things will improve. You would expect this higher level of worry to convert into a greater need to turn out to vote, but that doesn’t seem to happen here.

    One odd exception is the NHS where the pattern is reversed – Leavers are sure it would be good for it. Presumably this reflects the bizarre belief that anything wrong with the NHS is somehow because of ‘immigrants'[2].

    YouGov also asked about what was felt about what Cameron and Osborne clearly feel is the Remain side’s killer blow – house prices:

    House prices would be higher than if we stayed in the EU 8%

    House prices would be lower than if we stayed in the
    EU 13%

    Would make no real difference to house prices 48%

    Don’t know 31%

    So not exactly swaying the masses there. In addition those most likely to think house prices will drop are the under-25s and Londoners – pro-EU groups who might be moved the other way by the idea.

    [1] The other split that usually shows lower ‘opinionation’ (C2DE v ABC1) is anti-EU but that is presumably countered in part by the stronger age group participation with which it is associated (ie older people are more likely to have/have had manual jobs). There are also interesting regional variations, with keenness in the South East being even stronger than in Scotland, but London and the North low.

    [2] I can only suggest anyone deluded enough to believe this should insist on only being treated by UK-born and -trained staff next time they need it. In addition there is some evidence that not only are the more recent EU immigrants of the sort least likely to seek medical treatment, but they may even repatriate when they need something more serious done (this even happens with internal migration).

  4. “The general point remains that England in particular has been free of significant invasion, …..”

    Technical point, but Bonny Prince Charlie and his Scots chums invaded England in the ’45 and got as far south as Derby.

    That was pretty significant.

  5. And I’m guessing here, but if he had effective batteries, I suspect he would have pushed on all the way to London.

  6. Alec
    Yes it caused a bit of a flurry at the time, but not quite on a par with Napoleon’s escapades, Germany occupying France, Poland etc in the war, and USSR’s domination of most of eastern Europe until relatively recently, etc.

  7. Good morning all from a fine sunny central London.

    Another poll out today and still far too close to call however on trust Boris Johnson leads the pack with ol Corby a few points behind him..Strange because Corby has been rather muted over the EU but never the less next up is IDS and Farage both of which are ahead of Cameron when it comes to trust on the EU.

    The polls are clearly not going Cameron’s way so I’m waiting for some sort of anti Brexit spectacular from Cameron when he returns from Japan. My sources tell me he is to hold a press conference at Number 10 early next week with the Tooth fairy where we will be told leaving the EU will be bad for our teeth.

  8. In fact polls have been coming thick and fast. There was also a phone poll from Survation yesterday:

    EU REFERENDUM VI inc. Undecided: Leave 37.5%; Remain 44.3%; Undec 18.2%

    EU REFERENDUM VI excl. Undecided: Leave 45.9%; Remain 54.1%

    EU REFERENDUM VI inc. Undecided Squeezed: Leave 45.4%; Remain 54.6%

    Figures are after LTV processing and tables are here:

    http://survation.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/05/Full-IG-EU-Poll-Tables-230516RSDLL-1c0d1h3.pdf

    There is minimal change from Survation’s previous phone poll a month ago. The high number of undecideds is typical of phone polls but it’s interesting that it hasn’t dropped.

    Incidentally this poll, like some others, includes Northern Ireland respondents.

  9. Chris Hopkins’ commentary on the Survation poll is here by the way:

    http://survation.com/eureferendum-remain-maintains-steady-lead-over-leave/

    but I thought I’d better give you the tables separately as the link is particularly well camouflaged.

  10. @Pete B – “Yes it caused a bit of a flurry at the time, but not quite on a par with Napoleon’s escapades, ….”

    Not too sure about that. While there is some hstorical debate about whether London was in panic (Jacobite historians say it was, English chroniclers say otherwise) there was definately a great sense of fear and worry that there were few English forces standing in the way of the invaders path to London.

    It was a highly significant event, as is evidenced by the time and effort spent after Culloden to secure the highlands.

    I suspect that historically the deep phsychological imprint of the ’45 on English minds was deliberately written out of English history for fears of undermining the new unity of the two kingdoms, and it was left to the Scots to romanticise the affair, along with our later glourious failures at world cups etc.

  11. It’s all about how you tell the punchline.

    The Guardian says the immigration figures ‘have only increased by 20,000’, while the Telegraph says they are the second highest on record.

    Grist to the mill.

  12. ALLAN CHRISTIE

    The polls are clearly not going Cameron’s way so I’m waiting for some sort of anti Brexit spectacular from Cameron when he returns from Japan. My sources tell me he is to hold a press conference at Number 10 early next week with the Tooth fairy where we will be told leaving the EU will be bad for our teeth.

    Given that my previous dentist was Swedish and my current one is Greek, this would probably be Cameron’s most accurate and effective piece of propaganda in the entire campaign.

    (As usual it’s all Mrs Thatcher’s fault)

  13. HIRETON @partridge
    Full female and hence full adult suffrage in the UK was not achieved until 1928

    True, but one person one vote for Westminster didn’t happen until 1950. Lab abolished the University seats in 1948, although sitting MPs remained until the 1950 GE. Bizarrely for an act supposedly improving democracy, it also removed the STV voting system from elections for Westminster after a 30 year “experiment”.

  14. In fact, Westminster is still not democratically elected. The majority of politicians there are appointed, not elected. You’ve merely been taking about the Commons.

  15. And here’s yet another poll from yesterday, this time the phone poll from ORB for the Telegraph:

    http://www.opinion.co.uk/article.php?s=daily-telegraph-poll-18th-22nd-may

    (for tables click on pdf under ‘Download reports’, though as usual they are perhaps too comprehensive)

    As with previous ORBs it’s only an 800 sample and they have this ‘country heading in the right/wrong direction’ preliminary question. This is either for weighting or because if someone answers ‘wrong’ they try to sell them a Telegraph subscription.

    When asked how they intend to vote on June 23rd, 58% answered that they would vote to remain in the EU, a clear lead over the 38% who would vote to leave. 4% remain undecided.

    -Looking only at those voters who say that they will definitely vote in June, the result still appears to be a vote to remain in the EU – 55% say they will vote to remain, while 42% would vote to leave the EU. 3% don’t know how they will vote.

    -The majority of those Conservative voters we spoke to appear to support David Cameron’s stance on the EU, with 57% saying they will vote to remain in the EU on the day.

    Unlike Survation the DK figure is low (9%) although their LTV profile is much lower (LTV 10/10 is only 58% compared to 73%), so there may be big effects of question wording or other methodological factors)

  16. Anyway I know what you’ve been missing in this campaign so far. Yes, an Ashcroft mega-poll! Those carefully constructed focus groups are fun, but what we really need are enormous sample sizes and lots of charts in buff and blue. And now his Lordship has obliged:

    http://lordashcroftpolls.com/2016/05/control-v-risk-which-will-win-out-in-the-referendum-debate/

    5,009 adults were interviewed online between 13 and 18 May 2016. Results have been weighted to be representative of all adults in the United Kingdom.

    with links to detailed reports and tables. To list the main points

    1: Opinion remains divided, but the Leave vote is hardening

    2: The ‘control’ argument is potent…

    3: …but ‘risk’ looks equally powerful

    4: Boris and Dave dominate the debate

    5: Each side’s message is clear (whether or not it is believed)

    6: Instinct will matter more than facts

    7: Most people expect a Remain victory…

    8: …but they can’t decide how much it matters

  17. And still they come. Here’s BMG’s poll for this month as published yesterday:

    http://www.bmgresearch.co.uk/bmg-eu-referendum-tracker-leave-45-remain-44-undecidedpnts-12/

    45% (nc) – Leave

    44% (+1) – Remain

    12% (-1) – Undecided (DK/PNTS)

    some fun interactive stuff and links to the data are also there. It’s an online poll with f/w 20-25 May and like Ashcroft also includes Northern Ireland.

  18. ROGER MEXICO

    “Given that my previous dentist was Swedish and my current one is Greek, this would probably be Cameron’s most accurate and effective piece of propaganda in the entire campaign”

    (As usual it’s all Mrs Thatcher’s fault)
    _________________

    Ha!….you’re probably right ;-)

  19. We still don’t have full suffrage. Prisoners, lords and the under-18s can’t vote.

    But a lack of full suffrage doesn’t preclude democracy, it’s perfectly possible to have democracy with a restricted electorate (to whatever degree).

  20. On the subject of democracy:

    “The Ephebians believed that every man should have the vote (provided that he wasn’t poor, foreign, nor disqualified by reason of being mad, frivolous, or a woman). Every five years someone was elected to be Tyrant, provided he could prove that he was honest, intelligent, sensible, and trustworthy. Immediately after he was elected, of course, it was obvious to everyone that he was a criminal madman and totally out of touch with the view of the ordinary philosopher in the street looking for a towel. And then five years later they elected another one just like him, and really it was amazing how intelligent people kept on making the same mistakes.”

    ? Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

    Once again Pratchett proves to be the Swift of our era

  21. And as to explaining whole European argument either side could claim this:

    “The trouble was that he was talking in philosophy but they were listening in gibberish.”
    ? Terry Pratchett, Small Gods

    Perhaps Pratchett is on a par with Shakespeare for the understanding of human nature!

  22. Don’t know why those question marks keep appearing!!

  23. @Alec

    Your fuel comparison is fundamentally flawed due to a misunderstanding of engine efficiency. All engines lose some of their fuel’s potential energy, so the fuel intake of different engines to do the same work can be dramatically different.

    Diesel engines are at most 20% efficient at transforming it’s fuel into motion. Petrol is much worse, at only 15%. And we all now know that we’re basically at the limits of what can be produced from engine efficiency, without trying to fudge the figures.

    Electric engines are 80% efficient. Meaning they can do four times the work of a diesel engine for the same ‘fuel’ value.

    Your calculations are thus all over estimate the amount of extra strain on the national grid by a factor of four.

  24. ALEC

    The Guardian says the immigration figures ‘have only increased by 20,000’, while the Telegraph says they are the second highest on record.

    While ONS themselves say that the changes in the figures (they are effectively year-end 2015) are not statistically significant compared to 2014:

    https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/internationalmigration/bulletins/migrationstatisticsquarterlyreport/may2016

    A few points that may or may not be lost in the spin:

    Despite all the attention being on the EU, as in previous years, nett migration from outside the EU is still greater, though it is falling slightly (from 194[1] to 188) while total EU has risen (174 to 184) and may overtake in 2016. China may be the biggest source (based on visas)

    The overall figure is boosted by a drop in nett British emigration (55 down to 39). Could the possibility of EU withdrawal be making it less attractive to move there for work or retirement for Brits?

    The rise in immigration from EU15 (ie the pre-2004 members) that we saw in 2014 (having started in 2012 or so) appears to have levelled out (79), similarly E8 (Eastern European) figures remain level (47) as they have been for several years.

    Instead the big EU rise is mainly from the EU2 – Romania and Bulgaria going from 44 to 58[2]. For context these have a joint population of 27 million compared, say, to Poland alone with 38 million.

    Whichever way you look at it a nett immigration of a third of a million is a lot of people (but only half are from the EU).

    [1] All figures quoted in ‘000s. ONS also show confidence limits for all figures and point out that none of these changes are statistically significant at 5% – though may be approaching that and possibly indicative of trends.

    [2] There seems little effect from the accession of Croatia which with Malta and Cyprus is in none of these EU groups and were collectively responsible for no nett immigration.

  25. @Jayblanc

    Yes, but what’s the efficiency of the electricity generation? I have a vague recollection from an engineering lecture of fossil fuel power stations having something of the order of 40% efficiency. Is my recollection correct? Is that the right ball park? You need to multiply the generation efficiency by that electric motor efficiency that you gave to get the comparable figure to judge against a petrol/diesel engine.

  26. @Popeye

    I didn’t think it relevant, since Alec had included efficiency loss from the electricity production side in his calculations. But GST Electricity production is 60%. 80% of 60% is 48%, still a hugely greater efficiency. Also Alec hugely over-estimated transmission loss, which is only 5% not 20%.

    It should also be noted that transmission of liquid fuels to cars is not without it’s own strain on the national grid, requiring as it does a vast infrastructure. There would be noticeable reduction of electricity consumption to follow reduced consumption of liquid fuels. Oil refinement into petrol is in it’s self an energy intensive operation that puts far more front loaded efficiency loss in the fuel chain.

    Net result: No matter how you try to jury rig the figures, Electrical Engines are fundamentally more energy efficient than Internal Combustion Engines across the entire fuel chain.

  27. No I don’t think so, the calculations above are for gen capacity needed.

    Calculations of e car carbon intensity would include generation carbon intensity.

    Luckily the carbon intensity of or electricity supply is also falling.

    E cars are still less carbon intense then petrol even when the leccy comes hydrocarbon sources.

  28. Above at Popeye.

  29. And I see j beat me to it.

    As for hydrogen, meh. No infrastructure, hard to store, explosive. Hard to see any benefit over batteries.

  30. Oh, I want trying to suggest that electric cars aren’t more efficient. Just that the specific “four times the work for the same fuel value” seemed a bit high.

    Using the figures given above, if you burn a kilo of diesel in a car engine, you get 20% out, if burning the same kilo of diesel in a power station to run an electric car could get you 80% through the equivalent entire process from raw fuel to motion, that’s be pretty impressive!

    When this topic comes up, the thing it always drills home to me is how fiddling around with vehicles (different battery solutions, shaving efficiencies off electric car motors) is all well and good, but ultimately it’s somewhat paddling around in the shallows compared to the real issue which is sustainable generation. It’d be better to rollout electric vehicles at half the speed if by doing so you could double the speed at which you convert fossil fuel stations to renewable/nuclear.

  31. @Jayblanc and @Popeye – I would agree that there is a basic flaw in that I didn’t take into account car engine efficiency, so you are quite correct. I did include a guessed allowance for charging losses, but not the inefficiencies of the grid energy production (other than transmission losses).

    This means the calculations from earlier should not be taken as gospel, as clearly the actual energy used in car travel could be much less than the energy content of the fuel consumed at present, with this error offset by the additional electricity generating inefficiencies not already accounted for.

    Another approach – much better I think, now @jayblanc highlights my error – would be to look at how much electricity EV’s use on the road, and work from there. Tests on Tesla vehicles in California on ‘real world’ road tests show around 32kWh per 100m (apparently equivalent to c 112 mpg, but that could be US gallons).

    There were 244.4b vehicle miles driven by cars in the UK in 2014, so 20% of this would be 48.88b miles. At 32kWh per 100 miles that gives a total energy demand of 15,616GWh, which averaged over 8760 hours in a year would mean an average increase in grid demand of a constant 1.78GW or a 3.3% increase in the peak demand.

    On the same basis as previously, if we assume people charge their cars only for 8 hours overnight every night, this means peak demand stays the same but those 8 charging hours need to see increased supply of 5.34GW. Multiply this by a factor of four and you are very close to my original (erroneous) figure of 22GW, so thanks to @Jayblanc in pointing out my error, we may now be somewhat closer to an accurate assessment of the likely impacts.

    We then need to factor in @Popeye’s point about the efficiency of grid production. Thinking about this, while this does affect the overall efficiency of the bulk use of EV’s, it has less relevance in this scenario, as if we are assuming the 5.34GW of charging is needed during the night off peak times, we can simply add this to the current consumption and see that there is generally still capacity available.

    However, earlier this month we had a surprise Notification of Inadequate Supply Margin (NISM) which is basically an emergency call for power from the grid as capacity was so low. [Technically the National Grid refers to these as a ‘brownout’, which I understand is not connected to the term ‘blackout’ but is more to do with the colour of the National Grid managers trousers when a NISM happens].

    Having NISM’s in the summer months is highly unusual and a sign of significant stress on the energy market, and we also had one last November when demand was only 30GW.

    So even with the corrected figure, it’s clear that even just a 20% switch to electric cars will create some substantial additional stress on the ability of the market to maintain supplies, while all consumers will see a significant increase in electricity prices as demand increases.

    While the initial numbers were distorted due to my lack of knowledge of conventional vehicle efficiencies, it’s clear that EV’s will still need planning and management of the electricity supply system if they are not going to have a major distorting effect.

  32. ” It’d be better to rollout electric vehicles at half the speed if by doing so you could double the speed at which you convert fossil fuel stations to renewable/nuclear.”

    It would actually be even better to reduce the numbers of people driving cars and reduce the number of miles being driven. Ultimately, that is the only sustainable solution

  33. Real world studies with electric vehicles show that owners tend to charge them as soon as they get home from work as quickly as they can. This means that most of the load from charging tended to come between 6PM and 8PM – a 2 hour charge rather than 8 hours overnight.

    This was caused by worries about not having enough charge to handle an unplanned trip later in the evening.

  34. There are a lot of variables at play here, some of which pollsters may or may not get accurate on. I recently worked on an election campaign in the inner city of Winnipeg.

    Turnout varied from poll to poll depending on socio-economic status, with the range being from high 70% to a low of 22.6%. The latter was very much dependent on the ethnic status and attachment of a voter to the economy.

    My estimation and experience suggests that the more a particular voter has an attachment to the issues being discussed in the election/referendum the more they are likely to vote.

    A good ground game in a specific campaign increases turnout.

    Telephone and online polls are no substitute for talking to voters on the doorstep and in the street.

    Polls are at best a window into the minds of those who cannot be reached in person, and can help direct what needs to be said in person.

    More and more people are increasingly averse to answering calls from people they do not know, and as a result call display allows people to not answer the phone at all.

    In the most recent campaign, beyond internal polling, the aversion to being phoned by political parties, became self-evident.

    Dropping off leaflets, even a personalized letter, brought more results than phoning. In fact the only phoning done on the campaign, other than the candidates Mother phoning certain high income neighbourhoods, was to pull the vote on E-Day.

    Extrapolating all this from across the North Atlantic will be seen as a bit perverse by some.

    The fact that ICM is reporting that “leave” supporters are responding the fastest tells me that “leave” voters are highly motivated to vote, so turnout among “leave” voters is likely to be high.

    That, however, does not mean that “leave” will win, because we are still nearly month away from the vote, and many of the “undecided” in my opinion are more likely to be “risk averse” than those who are likely to vote for “leave”

    In the Scottish referendum, if I remember correctly, Yes peaked about two weeks before the vote.

    If I was working for “Remain” I would be focusing on a good ground campaign, and not be worrying about the polls and the pollsters.

  35. @Alec, Jayblanc, Popeye, Mark W. et al

    Interesting reading the contributions on the battery thing. In the article I cited, they came up with a figure of needing about 10 percent more leccy by 2040. Which is in the ballpark of Alec’s revised estimate.

    This is surely achievable, though it needs the political will of course. The other article I posted a few days back saw a future in which we were in surplus for half the year; in reality the more we are in surplus the better, endowed with so much wind, solar, tidal whatever, that we at least break even even on overcast days without much wind.

    Then the surplus the rest of the time can charge batteries and electrolyse hydrogen. Regarding hydrogen, it may be explosive but so is petrol. Hydrogen will be under pressure, but the same is true for cars running liquified gas and they aren’t exploding everywhere.

    Not out of the woods yet, because as Mark says, there is the filling station issue. I was sceptical about this myself, thinking we might need at least a few hundred filling stations to get things going, but apparently they’ve done their research, and it seems peeps become rather more interested in Hydrogen so long as there are at least two filling stations in the locality.

    So they did the spatial modelling and by siting stations near population centres and trunk roads, it seems you can satisfy this criterion of two local stations for quite a lot of people with just 65 stations, carefully sited.

    And the government has been putting money into that, another eleven are due to open this year, and we ought to get critical mass not long after 2020. That’s supposed to be enough to get the early adopters in, thus creating more demand for filling stations, in turn creating more demand for hydrogen cars, and it all takes off from there.

    Obviously, we’ll see if it pans out like they hope. But we’ll need extra grid capacity to electrolyse the water to create the hydrogen, ideally from renewable sources. The advantage is that we could use surplus capacity to electrolyse the hydrogen. Smoothing things out some more. You could even use surplus hydrogen in suitably equipped generators…

  36. If you are interested in the real issue of immigration, migration, refugees, you may want to look at this
    http://www.spiegel.de/international/world/why-global-migration-statistics-do-not-add-up-a-1090736.html

    The guy (no pun intended) also has a blog, and he put his PhD thesis up.

    You can draw your own conclusion as I have always doubted that reasoned arguments can change beliefs.

    Anyway, there is only one species of humans on earth … (Sorry Bigfoot)

  37. Laszlo

    Thanks for the link – fascinating.

    As with everything else, reality (whatever that is!) is only partially in the consciousness of anyone.

    Each individual’s “reality” is very complex set of ideas.

  38. @ OldNat

    Indeed – an unresolved problem. Has been around in Western thinking since rationalism vs empirism, transformed into methodological individualism vs functional analysis in the 1960s, and now played out amongst the various sects of social constructivism.

    The “truth” is not a theoretical question …

    If you are interested in graphical interpretation of the data, visit his blog. It’s good.

  39. A NISM is two steps done from a brown outt. After that is HRDR state ( high risk of demand reduction (ie please please bring some plant back online chaps). Brown out is next which is when Grid reduces voltage and causes lights to flicker. Rota cuts come after that.

    As Alec says NISM is rare in spring but companies take a lot of plant off for maintenance when wholesale prices are low. And they’re veeeery low at the moment.

    In fact elec cars might make this all less of a big deal if they can be put on a different circuit and controlled separately. It’ll just mean they take longer to charge up.

    Conventional wisdom currently is that brown outs etc. Would be polling poison. So you get politicians saying things like “non negotiable”. But views on this will have to become more nuanced in the future sustainable world we are supposed to be moving towards.

  40. @Lazslo.

    You’re quite right that people will draw their own conclusions.

    For me, the key political issue in the UK (and in the referendum) isn’t really immigration, or refugees. It’s population. The UK population is growing, and I’d rather it was shrinking.

    So when the author highlights that in percentage terms migration is relatively smaller “because the population of the world has risen from 6.1 billion to 7.3 billion since 2000” or “from 2 billion after world war two to 7.3 billion now” then that actually makes me more anxious about the problem rather than less. I don’t really want the species of humans to double its number every 30 years, and if it chooses to do so, I don’t want my country to have to accommodate the extras.

  41. But under the current economic model, we wouldn’t have much in the way of growth sans immigration.

  42. In the Times today, the headline:

    “Immigration will raise population by four million”

    …by 2024, according to the ONS.

    “The projections may underestimate population growth in England as they are based on net migration running at 163,000 a year compared with the present level of more than 300,000”.

    “The population is also ageing, with all regions seeing a faster growth in those aged 65 and over than in younger age groups.

    The report predicted that by 2024 there would be 84 local authorities where a quarter of the population was over 65”.

    Bottom line: if we’re gonna have these pseudo-neolib policies of the post seventies oil crisis consensus, and keep the boomers well looked after, gPlight have to get used to a lot more immigration.

  43. @ Neil A

    Soon it will be 10 billion. And for demographic reasons for the time being it will accelerate (then it will not).

    I do understand the anxiety about it, and as I said, people have to make up their own mind about it, so I don’t even give my opinion.

    Instead, a little illustration of magnitude, proportions and numbers.

    A city (I actually don’t know if it has a cathedral) in Hungary, called Miskolc with about 200,000 population would have been required to take 14 Syrian refugees under the EU quota (how they already treat the Roma there is neither here nor there in this context – they are segregated), which the pronto-fascist Hungarian government refused and initiated a completely illegal referendum on it (but of course, the Constitutional Court appointed on political basis declared it legal). Knowing (and we do know it) the composition of the refugees, that’s one family of professionals (maybe doctors, which would help the disaster called Hungarian public healthcare), one would open a fast food place, and one would be labourers.

    The real danger to Europe is the illiberal democracy (the last stop before fascism).

  44. @Neil A

    I am interested, how do you shrink the population?

    Surely with people living longer and requiring more expensive medical care to achieve this, a smaller and smaller group of working people will need to fund it.

    I guess we could:

    a) extend the working age to maintain a certain proportion of workers vs retirees
    b) simply cut back on what is spent on the older population
    c) tax the working population more and more

    This is very tricky issue, but it is important. Simply limiting population of the UK by immigration measures does not solve the core issue alone. It’s a poor and short term sticking plaster.

  45. gplight = might

  46. @Dieselhead – “A NISM is two steps done from a brown outt.”

    I know, but that would have spoiled the gag.

  47. There’s a question. Why do peeps who vote neoliberal, complain about immigration? Lots of immigration is often quite important to make sure neoliberalism doesn’t fall apart at the seams. To get growth, to drive wages down, to ensure profits sans productivity gains, (or from asset inflation for those who can’t get it together to make summat worth selling).

  48. @CMJ,

    Yes, you basically have it. A combination of all of those things (which are happening anyway)

    I accept that there is no way to manage the (temporary) imbalance in the ratio of pensioners to workers other than with a (temporary) decline in living standards in some form. It’s simply that for me, halting to loss of land to development would be a prize worth making that sacrifice for.

    It mystifies me that the Green movement, which used worry about loss of green space, population control and moving away from endless economic growth now seems to have shifted to pretty straightforward socialist state-corporatist style agenda.

    It’s not as if declining population is some sort of Scotch mist. It’s a reality across much of Europe, and would be a reality in the UK too if it hadn’t been for the large-scale importation of people in recent decades.

    @Carfrew,

    I think that the “Right” is a coalition between neoliberals and small c conservatives. It’s not so much that people who oppose immigration are pro-neoliberalism. It’s just that both sets of people recognise a common threat in socialism and cooperate to contest it. UKIP have slightly threatened that coalition, but as we’ve seen it’s still capable of winning elections.

    There was once a similar coalition on the left, which has also rather broken down recently leading to exposure to UKIP on the small c conservative side.

  49. @Neil A

    There is certainly a part of the Green movement (the remnants of the Ecology Party) that still talk about population controls.

    Long term, with finite resources on the planet, ecological limits will be reached, and we will need another economical model and population model – a zero growth one.

    Of course, voters won’t go for that now. Humans have this habit of completely denying we will hit the brick wall until we are three feet through it.

  50. I answer internet questions if i am interested in the subject and want to do so. I never answer cold callers on the phone on principle. Is it possible that interest in the issue is stronger among Brexit campaigners and that as interest is correlated with willingness to answer internet polls this leads to higher Brexit VI in internet polling?

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