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« Quote of the day | Main | Outside again »
Tuesday
Apr242012

Representative of what?

On Monday, Richard Black wrote about an Ipsos-Mori poll conducted on behalf of Renewables UK:

Earlier this month, Ipsos-Mori asked a representative sample of just over 1,000 adults to what extent they favoured wind power.

Sixty-six per cent were either "strongly in favour of" or "tended to favour" the technology, against just 8% who were opposed.

Pretty strong support, wouldn't you say?

However, thanks to a twitterer who goes by the name of "The Debunker No 2 BS" it has now been revealed that the poll might have been, well, less straightforward than might have been expected. The clue is in the technical details of the report, where we find that:

Questions were asked online of 1,009 adults aged between 16 and 64 across Great Britain.

Whatever happened to the over-65s? Do they have no opinions on windfarms? Perhaps someone with more experience of these kinds of polls can tell me whether this exclusion of older people is normal in these kinds of surveys. Either way, Richard Black has reported the poll as being representative of British people rather than those of working age.

Quelle surprise.

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Reader Comments (49)

Hmmmm ...... Quite frankly, I find the figures, even excluding the over 65's, quite unbelievable. This leads one to think that there has been some further doctoring. But perhaps I move in strange circles.

Apr 24, 2012 at 7:45 AM | Unregistered CommenterHuhneToTheSlammer

If there was no mention of costs relative to other things - no mention of how much the respondents were willing to have added to their electricity bills to pay for wind power, for example - then it's a misleading survey. But the point about over-65s is that they have more time to investigate such things. Fail and fail.

Apr 24, 2012 at 7:48 AM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

I'm more interested in the numbers used, 2p a day being the cost increase because of wind?

Something doesn't sound right here.

But good on Black aye, being the mouth price for big green. You can't by that kind of support!

Mailman

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:07 AM | Unregistered CommenterMailman

I doubt if asking questions online means that the sample is truly representative either. It may come as a shock to some, but not everybody sends all their time online. Some even have real lives to lead.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:08 AM | Unregistered CommenterLatimer Alder


The survey data were weighted by age, gender, region and social grade, working status and main household shopper, to be nationally representative of GB adults aged 16 - 64.

Wanna buy a wind farm -- twiddles cigar in a Groucho Marx style.

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Come on people, you must be used to "science by self-selected survey (SSS)" by now.

They're panicking, and you know why? They used to say "97% of scientists agree..." like some crap 50s toothpaste commercial, but now that lie is falling apart... so no it's "9 out of 10 cats prefer...".

Very soon we'll be seeing the "CAGW doorstep challenge", where CAGW celebrities scare householders in the morning asking them about their favourite catastrophe?,,,

"Well Dr Gleik, I'm late for work, but if pressed I think we'll all drown due to the collapse of the Greeland ice shelf myself, but the wife here thinks we'll starve due to crop faolure in the temperate zone. And little Tommy? He's a scamp, only last night at CAGW Youth, he denounced us to the authorities for leaving the garage light on. We're due in court later. It was an energy-saving bulb too...."

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterTheBigYinJames

I'm surprised at the 66%. I thought it would be nearer 97%

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

Darn! You beat me to it James:)

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR


8. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

The Government should strongly invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency to boost an economic recovery, create tens of thousands of new jobs, reduce our reliance on overseas fossil fuels and help tackle climate change, even if this were at the expense of other plans.

Strongly agree - 39 per cent

Agree - 40 per cent

Neither agree/ disagree - 12 per cent

Disagree - three per cent

Strongly disagree - one per cent

Don't know - five per cent


http://www.foe.co.uk/resource/press_releases/fits_survey_27012010.html

Didn't they miss out 'end world poverty, stop nuclear weapon expansion' and any other idealist agenda item that could be added to the list?

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:40 AM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

From the original article on the BBC website: "Commissioned by trade body RenewableUK, the Ipsos-Mori poll found that 43% see the UK subsidy as good value for money against 18% who do not."

So that is a truly independent poll then!

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:56 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Arthur

RenewableUK are serial liars - you only have to go and look at their website and see the section on myths.

Tha average man in the street knows nothing about wind power and, by definition, he lives in an urban area where he never sees or hears a wind turbine. Go into the countryside and there is a 97% consensus against wind power.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:01 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"The Government should strongly invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency to boost an economic recovery, create tens of thousands of new jobs, reduce our reliance on overseas fossil fuels and help tackle climate change, even if this were at the expense of other plans."

Who could argue with that?

Now suppose they put it this way:

"The Government should continue throwing public money at costly and inefficient wind turbines, to burden the economy with additional costs and cause substantial net job losses while having almost no effect on our reliance on overseas fossil fuels, or any measurable effect in tackling climate change."

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterNicholas Hallam

Or they could have asked are you in favour of subsidising inefficient industries which will require higher taxes and higher gas and electricity prices.

I suppose that would be too easy I notice our friend Mr Black wasn't taking comments on this one?

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:21 AM | Unregistered CommenterStacey

@Philip Bratby:

"Tha average man in the street knows nothing about wind power and, by definition, he lives in an urban area where he never sees or hears a wind turbine. Go into the countryside and there is a 97% consensus against wind power."

Phillip, did you manage to catch the One Show last night? They had Janet Street-Porter do a piece on how much she hated wind farms. Of course, by the end of the piece she had been 'persuaded' that they weren't at all noisy, were highly desirable and were well worth the damage to the environment. The fact that the engineer who was showing her round a turbine managed to get it running (I suspect off-load) to show how quiet it was seemed very deceptive.

Find it here, about 12 minutes in: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01gw460/The_One_Show_23_04_2012/

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:25 AM | Unregistered CommenterSnotrocket

Lord Beaverbrook has nailed it. Are you in favour of apple pie and the American Way?
There is no attempt to put such an energy "policy" in context.
Frankly, I tend to ignore all polls taken from the "man in the street" ....at a risk of sounding a bit snotty....the Great British Public has not got a clue generally about the wisdom or otherwise of our energy policies. They are swayed by the papers they read or the TV they watch.
I follow the debate closely and it is evident to me that any successful energy policy is half down to luck as well as careful forethought. No one could whip up an absolutely surefire one resistant to all circumstances which might change.
What I am however 100% sure of is that a policy involving the building of 10,000 wind turbines will be an unmitigated disaster.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:30 AM | Unregistered CommenterJack Savage

If you get the figures of the people polled its clearly a scam by Renewable UK. The older the participant the more they disliked wind farms, which might explain why the cut off age was 64. Why exclude 20% of the population from your survey? So we now know Renewable UK are ageist. Only 5 and 8% of the participants 50 and 81 from Wales and Scotland where the majority of wind farms are.

The South East, West Midlands and London had the greatest number of participants where the majority will live in Cities or big towns where turbines aren’t likely to be built to be seen or heard.

This survey was conducted by an on line panel that Ipso Mori keeps for such purposes, which in itself means these are not typical people

Basically this survey was fraud on a massive scale but we shouldnt be surprised at this as Renewable UK have been defrauding the UK people for years with their useless wind farms.

Apr 24, 2012 at 9:38 AM | Unregistered CommenterArthur Biscuit

According to Wikipedia, 65+ represents ~15% of the population

If you accept that those < 16 are legitimately excluded, then the percentage of the population excluded on the basis that they are "too old" rises to ~19%

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:03 AM | Unregistered Commentermrsean2k

Lord Beaverbrook,

They've made Government sound like a Miss World contest. It's the swimsuit round and the David Cameron has been asked what he'd do to tackle climate change...

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

Richard Black is a bad man. End of.

Apr 24, 2012 at 11:24 AM | Unregistered CommenterTucker

Black Dick kiting more herd hogwash.

It's democratic - see! - the majority say it's so.

This actually has unpleasant undertones - "your thinking is deviant" and diverges from The Party Line - all hail the glorious and heroic tractor workers, death to the revisionist reactionaries - the people have spoken, bow to the will of the people or perish!


OK, a bit OTT - but so is the article - it's so far beyond anything that the BBC should sensibly be promulgating that I'm simply lost for the vocabulary to deconstruct it without resorting to a Tourette's barrage.

Knowing a few pollsters who will drop by for a cuppa occasioanlly - and show me what the latest is, I don't recall seeing one survey that I felt didn't have the questions skewed to an outcome... I'd be interested to see the the full demographic breakdown and selection criteria - I suppose there might be 1000 people left in the Chris Huhne fan club?

Apr 24, 2012 at 11:28 AM | Registered Commentertomo

Were the subjects of the poll informed that no matter how many wind generators were fielded, not a single conventional power station would be taken off line.

Regarding Richard Black: I agree with Tucker all the way.

Apr 24, 2012 at 11:32 AM | Unregistered CommenterPeter Stroud

RenewablesUK is simply a trade organisation, formerly known as British Wind Industry Association, representing companies which benefit from the promotion of wind energy - for commercial advantage.

If a poll like this was produced by a trade organisation from any other commercial group, such as the defence or oil industries, the BBC would be all over it like a rash - investigating it on Panorama etc for "duping the public".

Black's unqualified endorsement of it is simply another piece of evidence that he is a committed activist rather than a journalist and shouldn't be employed by an "impartial" public broadcaster.

Apr 24, 2012 at 12:12 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Why the 16 cut-off and not 18? 16-17 year-olds are not adults as far as I'm concerned.

Apr 24, 2012 at 12:42 PM | Unregistered CommenterDaveS

I was astounded - and suspected a distinct whiff of rodent.
Being over 64 I did not, of course, qualify to have a view on these ridiculouslyinefficient, expensive, hideous, 'rich man's toys' - but then obviously I'm in a minority....

Apr 24, 2012 at 1:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid

Rule 1. The sure sign of BS newstory is it begins with "A new survey says"
Rule 2. Any story which confirms greendreambelievers dogma will be quickly copy+pasted without fact-checking by Eco-churnalists like BBCnews-enviro

- When I saw the story I thought "those numbers didn't sound right to me .. it could be 20%-30% urban uninformed who can't follow the maths ...survey must be skewed"
- So I checked the source data
"The research was conducted on i:omnibus, Ipsos MORI’s online panel omnibus, between Friday 13th April and Tuesday 17th April 2012.
Questions were asked online of 1,009 adults aged between 16 and 64 across Great Britain.
The survey data were weighted by age, gender, region and social grade, working status and main household shopper, to be nationally representative of GB adults aged 16 - 64."
.....and I can quickly see
- Skew 1. they did the survey online
- Skew 2. they excluded over 65s, i.e.pensioners (over 65s are 10million, ie 17% of UK adult population) ...so it's NOT a "public survey" as it misses a 17% segment of the public
- Possible Skew 3. They have a record for loading the questions ..but I don't know the questions this time

- Test results for medicines inconvenient to manufacturers gather dust at the back of the filing cabinet... the same will apply to the Wind-subsidy-fat-cats.

"When it comes to wind power, public opinion always seems to get blown away"

Perhaps someone can post some unbiased surveys here


PS. today bbcScitech tweeted "Renewables 'help jobs and growth' "
- Meaningless BS ! you can say that for any industry ..even the liquidation industry creates jobs

...at another angle : If it worked (which it doesn't) the "unsustainable without subsidies" Renewable industry would take away jobs from the "sustainable without subsidy" normal electricity generation industry.

Apr 24, 2012 at 1:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterNo2BS

one more thing : The BBC-enviro has an agenda about what it wants you to know & what it doesn't want you to know
Businessgreen story shows the BBC chose to cover one story & not another
"The wind energy industry has today hit back at the launch of a national anti-wind farm group with the release of a major new survey showing that over two-thirds of people are broadly in favour of wind farms."

- So the BBC-enviro doesn't want you to know about Nowind the new national anti-windfarm group

Apr 24, 2012 at 1:33 PM | Unregistered CommenterNo2BS

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:07 AM | Mailman

I heard a similar number quoted to Janet Street-Porter by some windmill proponent on The One Show the other night.

He also said new turbines were quieter than the old ones. What was entertaining though was that the wind dropped, it didn't stop completely, so the blades turned quite slowly. Not sure whether power was coming from or to the grid, that wasn't stated.

Janet remained anti.

Sandy

Apr 24, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

You should ask what was the distribution of the population polled.

Apr 24, 2012 at 2:47 PM | Unregistered CommenterGeorge Steiner

Nobody ever asks me! Is it 'cos I's not representative?

Apr 24, 2012 at 3:51 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

If you got to the Ipsos Mori site -

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/researchpublications/researcharchive/2946/RenewableUK-Wind-Power-Omnibus-research.aspx

..and click on the "Download the survey topline PDF" link, you get a summary of the methodology followed by just four loaded questions - none of which seem to provide justification for the press releases.

The answer categories provided in Q4 are a hilarious example of how not to run an opinion poll - since the answer is pretty well provided in each question.

Apr 24, 2012 at 4:11 PM | Registered CommenterFoxgoose

Lord Beaverbrook posted:

8. To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement?

The Government should strongly invest in renewable energy and energy efficiency to boost an economic recovery, create tens of thousands of new jobs, reduce our reliance on overseas fossil fuels and help tackle climate change, even if this were at the expense of other plans.

Strongly agree - 39 per cent

Agree - 40 per cent

Neither agree/ disagree - 12 per cent

Disagree - three per cent

Strongly disagree - one per cent

Don't know - five per cent
-------------------------------------------------------------------
From a poll design perspective, there are so many things wrong with this it is hard to know where to start. The most obvious is that it is not one question, but several - and as is so often the case when we are confronted with such polls, we have to choose the least worst answer. About the only thing they left out was not torturing cute puppies in the list of things people were asked to agree with.

I would like to see the questions in the poll under discussion - or are they a trade secret of the trade association that commissioned it?

Apr 24, 2012 at 4:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

Bishop Hill

1. The short document 'RenewableUK Strategies: Wind Power
omnibus research' is offered at:

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/renewable-uk-wind-power-topline-april.pdf

The document does not copy.


2. The document states (as already recited elsewhere on
this thread): 'The survey data were weighted by age, gender,
region and social grade, working status and main household
shopper, to be nationally representative of GB adults aged
16-64'.


3. The document offers: 'Full data tables are available upon
request'.


4. Under the heading 'Questions & Topline results' the
document states:
'The next few questions are about wind energy.'

and goes on to table responses to the following two survey
questions (and give each table's base):

RWO1.
To what extent are you in favour of or opposed to the use of
wind power in the UK?
Base: All respondents (1009 people)

RWO2
To what extent do you find the look of wind farms on the
landscape acceptable or not? Please give your answer on a scale
of 1-10 where 1 means completely unacceptable and 10 means
it’s completely acceptable.
Base: All respondents (1009 people).


5. All very fine save that a 'nationally representative'
sample of respondents will probably comprise largely persons
who have not the personal experience to develop a seriously
based opinion upon the appearance of wind farms, or the
financial and technical knowledge of affairs to develop an
informed opinion upon the economics of wind power, one way
or another.


6. But then, by definition, 'opinion surveys' are purely
political exercises.


Stephen Prower

Stevenage

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Apr 24, 2012 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Prower

Social science ≡ lying with statistics || lying to order

Nobody is going to pay for a survey that might return the 'wrong' answer, are they?

If it were my money, I would specify the required answer in the contract.

Apr 24, 2012 at 5:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterBilly Liar

While most people get their information from the BBC, polls like this are more a measure of BBC bias than anything else.

Apr 24, 2012 at 5:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterJake Haye

RWO1.
To what extent are you in favour of or opposed to the use of
wind power in the UK?
Base: All respondents (1009 people)

RWO2
To what extent do you find the look of wind farms on the
landscape acceptable or not? Please give your answer on a scale
of 1-10 where 1 means completely unacceptable and 10 means
it’s completely acceptable.
Base: All respondents (1009 people).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Well, I am not opposed to the use of wind power in the UK or anywhere else. What I am opposed to is having to subsidise it in any way, shape or form, including by the over-riding of planning restrictions. I am also opposed to having its visual and other impacts foisted on people who do not want them, including users of national parks and reserves.

As is so often the case with these polls, the questions do not permit honest and accurate answers that reflect this position.

Apr 24, 2012 at 7:20 PM | Unregistered Commenterjohanna

- jiiiiiiiiir ..What's that noise ?
............................... Ah I should have realised that's the BBC cherrypicker being driven by paid eco-activist conference organiser Richard Black who works in a news room.
- His job is help journalists by gathering green dogma supporting material to publish to keep up the value of the heavily invested in environmental businesses BBC pension fund. "ah some nice ripe cherrypicked data" that'll do nicely ..sex it up with a loaded headline .... no ones goiong to look too deep are they ?"

(courtesy of alt-prntscreen & online OCR)
"RW03 According to RenewableUK calculations based on official figures from Ofgem (the energy regulator), during the financial year 2010/2011 the average UK household contributed £7.74 of their energy bill (equivalent to around 2p per day), towards the development of wind energy as part of the Government's Renewables Obligation.To what extent do you believe this to be good or poor value for money for UK energy consumers? (Loaded question, disputed figures £200/year + )
Base: All respondents (1009 people) (Single response only)
very good value : 17% , fairly good value :16%"
guess that's how they get their fair 43% ( "would you like me to hit the suspect some more sargent ?")

ah this is interesting
"RW04. What benefits, if any, do you think wind energy is providing the UK?
Base: All respondents (1009 people) (Multiple responses permitted)
i. Helping to reduce carbon emissions 59%
ii. Helping to tackle climate change 44%
iii. Providing jobs in the wind energy sector and it's supply chain 48%
iv Providing a secure supply of energy in the UK 48%
v Reducing the UK's dependence on imported fossil fuels 59%
vi Providing an energy source that helps to protect customers from rises in energy bills created by fluctuating gas prices 36% (Wind prices will change if we cut the subsidy & wind has to be backed up by gas aswell)
vii Other 2%
viii I can't think of any benefits (Single Response only) 8%
ix Don't know (Single Response only) 7% "

-I didn't see Comrade Black write the headline "66% of respondents said windfarms DON'T help climate change"

Apr 24, 2012 at 7:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterNo2BS

..56% ... (not 66% I can't count)

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:02 PM | Unregistered CommenterNo2BS

"vi Providing an energy source that helps to protect customers from rises in energy bills"

Pardon?

Apr 24, 2012 at 8:54 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames P

Bishop Hill

1. Mailman picked up on the '2p per day' figure in the
third question of the survey as recited in 'RenewableUK
Strategies: Wind Power omnibus research':

'RWO3 According to RenewableUK calculations based on
official figures from Ofgem (the energy regulator), during
the financial year 2010/20 11 the average UK household
contributed £7.74 of their energy bill (equivalent to around
2p per day), towards the development of wind energy as part
of the Government’s Renewables Obligation. To what extent do
you believe this to be good or poor value for money for UK
energy consumers?
Base: All respondents (1009 people)
(Single response only)'.

But Mailman did not take up the issue of the plausibility of
the figure further.

I can't pursue the issue to a conclusion, but I can make a
start by sourcing the figure.


2. Notice the '2p per day' figure is sourced, not to an
independent source, but to RenewableUK itself calculating
from Ofgem as independent source.


3. So who is RenewableUK?

According to website:

http://www.bwea.com/about/index.html

'RenewableUK is the trade and professional body for the UK
wind and marine renewables industries. Formed in 1978, and
with 629 corporate members, RenewableUK is the leading
renewable energy trade association in the UK.'

Elsewhere on the site it says that RenewableUK was
previously named the British Wind Energy Association:

http://www.bwea.com/about/history.html


4. And how is the '2p per day' figure calculated by
Renewable UK?

Per the footnotes to yesterday's press release:

http://www.bwea.com/media/news/articles/pr20120423.html

the calculation is as follows:

'3. Wind (on and offshore) cost £7.74 per household in
2010/11, 65p per month, 14.9p per week or just over
2p per day. Here are the details of the data and
calculations:

*Renewables Obligation 2010/2011 = 34,749,418 ROCs
(Ofgem Renewables Obligation Annual Report 2010-11)
ROC price = £36.99
(Ofgem Renewables Obligation Annual Report 2010-11)

*Value of total obligation = (34.7million ROCs x £36.99)
= £1,285,380,972

*Domestic supply accounts for 31% of UK electricity
(DECC Digest of UK Energy Statistics Table 5.1)

*Value of domestic portion of Renewables Obligation
= (£1.2billion x 31%) = £398.5million

*Number of households in the UK = 26.3million
(Office for National Statistics, Families & Households,
2011)

*Cost of RO per household energy bill
= £398.5million / 26.3million = £15.15

*Offshore & onshore wind accounted for 51.1% of ROCs in
2010/11 (20.2% and 30.9% respectively) giving a cost per
household for wind of (£15.15 x 51.1%) = £7.74'


5. According to Ofgem Renewables Obligation Annual Report
2010-11:

http://www.ofgem.gov.uk/Sustainability/Environment/RenewablObl/Documents1/Renewables%20Obligation%20Annual%20Report%202010-11.pdf

'ROC' is short for Renewables Obligation Certificate.
Renewables Obligation Certificates are issued by
Ofgem. Renewables Obligation Certificates have a 'value'
(eg the figure of £36.99 recited by RenewablesUK in its
calculation).


6. Taking matters further, Ofgem Renewables Obligation
Annual Report 2010-11 states:

'2.9. Suppliers paid a total of £361.1 million into the
buy-out fund by the statutory deadline of 30 August 2011.'

and:

'2.11. The buy-out price is set by Ofgem in advance of the
obligation period and is ammended annually in line with
RPI10. In 2010-11 the price was set at £36.99 per ROC. This
increased to £38.69 for the 2011-12 obligation period.'


7. I gather from this that the energy suppliers pay into a
buy-out fund out of which payment (amounting eg to a total
of £1,285,380,972 in 2010-11) is made to the renewable
energy generators.


8. And I gather from RenewableUK's calculation that the
energy suppliers charge the amount that they pay into the
buy-out fund either in advance or in arrear to the
consumer.


9. Is this all that the consumer pays 'extra' to the
renewable energy generators? Does the consumer also pay
extra in general taxation for Government subsidies to the
renewable energy generators?

Who pays for the new transmission lines that connect wind
farms to the grid?

Who pays for the construction and running costs of the
conventionally-fired backup power stations on permanent
standby that wind farms are said to need?


10. As I suggested earlier I am now out of my depth.

But certainly I would expect that any charges that the
industrial consumer pays through the suppliers into the
buy-out fund will be passed on to the domestic consumer as
an indirect double charge by way of higher prices.


Stephen Prower

Stevenage

Tuesday 24 April 2012

Apr 24, 2012 at 10:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Prower

have these people no shame (BBC)

i've noticed the BBC poll con going on over the last 4/5 yrs & wondered, why am i paying for propaganda?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dkOLq17GReg
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nfOlCNyBwT4&feature=related

Apr 25, 2012 at 1:11 AM | Unregistered Commenterdougieh

Has anyone managed to get the "full data tables that are available upon request"?

I've been trying but only been sent the PDF with the summary that includes the phrase "full data tables that are available upon request" so far.

Apr 25, 2012 at 5:26 AM | Unregistered Commenterclimatebeagle

Imagine the fuss the Guardian would make if members of any other minority group were excluded from the poll!

Apr 25, 2012 at 11:05 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoy

I have some experience of survey methodology being misused by green groups. I have to say that you're barking up the wrong tree here. Excluding the over-64s is a non-issue. It wouldn't make that much difference to the final results. Even if the results were slightly less favourable to the greens, there would still be plenty for them to crow about.

The flaw with the survey is to do with the nature of the questions. Question RW01 is far too vague:
"To what extent are you in favour of or opposed to the use of wind power in the UK?"

This is not specific enough. Who is against wind power per se? Who's going to say that you can't put up a windmill in your back yard? No-one. The actual issue is not wind power in general, but the attempt to replace a lot of our current energy provision with wind power. (Even to ask a question about that would be misleading unless you specified what would be involved, ie. how much land would have be covered with turbines).

Question RW02: To what extent do you find the look of wind farms on the landscape acceptable or not?

This misses the point. Few people mind a few wind farms here and there. But what about when huge amounts of the landscape are covered with them, as would be necessary if we want to replace a lot of our current energy sources with wind power? And what do local people feel when it happens in their area?

Question RW03: According to RenewableUK calculations based on official figures from Ofgem (the energy regulator), during the financial year 2010/11 the average UK household contributed £7.74 of their energy bill (equivalent to around 2p a day), towards the development of wind energy as part of the Government's Renewables Obligation. To what extent do you believe this to be good or poor value for money for UK energy consumers?

As some have said, the figure of 2p a day is very likely to be an enormous underestimate by the trade industry concerned who have a vested interest here. (As has been said, would the BBC have treated so uncritically a report by a non-green industry where there was a similar vested interest?)

But what is extraordinary here is the results. Only 43% think this is good value or even fairly good value. 44% think it is average or worse value. So only a minority thinks 2p a day is good value! That number is likely to be much lower if the real cost is revealed to be much higher.

Richard Black cynically spins this as "43% see the UK subsidy as good value for money against 18% who do not". The 18% figure seems to come from the 10% who think it fairly poor value and the 9% who think it very poor -- this gives 19%, but I can't see where else he got 18% from.

Question RW04: What benefits, if any, do you think wind energy is providing the UK?

A list of answers were provided, and respondents could choose more than one:
1. Helping to reduce carbon emissions: 59%
2. Helping to tackle climate change: 44%
3. Providing jobs in the wind energy sector and its supply chain: 48%
4. Reducing the UK's dependence on imported fossil fuels: 59%
5. Providing an energy source that helps to protect customers from rises in energy bills created by fluctuating gas prices: 36%
6. Other: 2%

This is BS. It is appalling that a reputable polling company should be involved in this sort of thing (and they know perfectly well the flaws that are here).

The problem with questions 1-2 is that they are both true, but beside the point. Wind power does help to reduce carbon emissions. But only by a tiny amount, and at a huge cost. Question 3 is also obviously true -- of course wind energy provides jobs to people in the wind energy industry, but so what? Creating power through human treadmills would create jobs in the treadmill industry too, but that doesn't make it sensible. Question 4 is also clearly true, but only to a small degree, and of course it creates it own separate dependencies.

What is astonishing is that more people did not tick 1, 2, 3 and 4. It doesn't say much for your cause when you set up a rigged survey and most people still don't follow the directions. Part of the problem is that it isn't clear what "benefits" means. If you choose to interpret this as "overall benefit, taking into account the downsides" then you'll answer this differently than if you just respond on the basis that the qurestion is asking about benefits seperately from downsides. Or else people thought that something might be a benefit, but not much of one. How else do you explain why only a minority thought that wind energy provides jobs in the wind energy sector, when it clearly does? Is it because people think this isn't really a benefit because it costs the same or more jobs elsewhere?

And as someone else here said, Richard Black didn't mention the jaw-dropping statistic that 56% of people didn't think wind energy 'helps climate change'.

Question 5 is obviously a leading question, and it is disgraceful that Ipsos-Mori allowed it. But despite this only 36% of people ticked it!

The other major issue with this survey is the response rate. I have e-mailed Ipsos Mori to ask them about that, and for a copy of the materials they used to get people to do the survey. It is very easy to recruit a biased sample if you let them know what the survey is about beforehand, as those who are green or green-leaning get involved, while most other people don't bother.

And of course the panel (i.e the pool of people who have previously agreed to be surveyed by the company from time to time) is already going to be heavily skewed towards do-gooders, greens, left-wing activists, etc. You will get very different results from a survey conducted outside a supermarket!

Apr 26, 2012 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterA

However, the truth about wind is not being put to the Britich people.

Until the MSM and the BBC in particular start explaining the costs, the issue with energy production, the need for back up power, the amount of CO2 saved etc, the general population are in the dark and cannot easily reach an informed decision.

The Richard Black poll is more a testament about the lack of open reporting in MSM than a genuine endorsement of windpower.

Apr 26, 2012 at 10:50 AM | Unregistered Commenterrichard verney

Have heard back from Ipsos Mori. I'm satisfied that they haven't recruited a biased sample for this particular survey (although their pool is still generally going to be somewhat biased).

Apr 26, 2012 at 11:57 AM | Unregistered CommenterA

Bishop Hill

RenewableUK's figurework

1. I should in fairness say that I have now as follows found
an official figure for the charge of the Renewables
Obligation on the average domestic electricity bill, and the
figure is in fact not much more than RenewableUK's figure:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/about-us/economics-social-research/3593-estimated-impacts-of-our-policies-on-energy-prices.pdf

Department of Energy & Climate Change
'"Estimated impacts of energy and climate change policies on
energy prices and bills"
November 2011

Annex F: Breakdown of estimated impact of energy and climate
change policies on average gas and electricity bills

Table F2: Estimated impact of energy and climate change
policies on an average household electricity bill
(including VAT)

£(real 2010 prices)_________________________2011
Estimated bill without policies___________________583
RO support cost_____________________________20'


2. It remains to discount the Renewables Obligation in
respect of non-wind generated energy.

RenewablesUK gives the figure of the proportion of the
Renewables Obligation that is represented by wind-generated
energy as 51.1%:

'*Offshore & onshore wind accounted for 51.1% of ROCs in
2010/11 (20.2% and 30.9% respectively) ...'


I've found a possible source for the 51.1% figure:

http://www.decc.gov.uk/assets/decc/11/stats/publications/energy-trends/articles/2082-renewable-energy-2010-trends-article.pdf

'"Renewable energy in 2010"

21.5 29.6%

Table 3: Load factors for various renewable technologies

Technology______________________________________2010
Onshore wind (unchanged configuration basis)___________21.5%
Offshore wind (unchanged configuration basis)__________29.6%'


RenewablesUK's figure is accordingly plausible, and I shall
therefore use it.

So 51.1% of £20 equals £10.22p.

And £11.22p per annum is equivalent to 2.8p per day.


3. Not too much of a difference there from '2p per day'
then!


4. RenewablesUK gave the number of households in the UK as 26.3
million (source: Office for National Statistics, Families &
Households, 2011).

A levy of '2p per day' on 26.3 million households yields
£192 million, or 2.8p per day yields £269 million.


5. Given the implication of RenewableUK's figurework that
the Renewables Obligation is the sum total of the charge of
the wind industry upon UK households, and to put the above
figures in scale, I have also found a Government 'list' of
Government, ie taxpayer, subsidies to the wind energy
sector:

http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201212/cmhansrd/cm120301/text/120301w0001.htm

www.parliament.uk

Written Answers to Questions
Thursday 1 March 2012

'Renewable Energy: Technology

Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Energy
and Climate Change what steps he has taken to encourage the
development of early-stage renewable technologies. [97299]

Gregory Barker: The 2010 spending review allocated over £200
million to support low carbon technologies, of which up to
£60 million was included to support the establishment of
offshore wind manufacturing at port sites. In June 2011, the
Department announced up to £20 million—subject to value for
money assessments—to support the pre-commercial
demonstration of marine array devices, and in July 2011
announced the allocation of up to £30 million for offshore
wind technology development.

This funding for renewable technologies is part of a wider
package of support which the Department is working on with
other members of the Low Carbon Innovation Group(1).

The aim is to ensure that there is strategic alignment of
public funding for the sector to maximise the benefits each
funding stream generates.

The Renewables Obligation (RO) is another way that we
support emerging technologies such as offshore wind and
marine energy. Proposals in the recent consultation
reviewing support levels reiterated our commitment to these
technologies.'


As can be seen the Secretary of State wrongly states that
payments to the renewable energy generators under the
Renewables Obligation are made by the Government rather
than charged to the consumer.

Let's hope the rest of his list is more reliable!


6. While as for EU subsidies, which ultimately the UK
taxpayer pays an important contribution towards, without
delving deeply, the main subsidy would seem to come from the
European Energy Programme For Recovery:

http://www.egovmonitor.com/node/31858

'"EU Launches The European Energy Programme For Recovery"
Source: European Commission
Published Wednesday, December 9, 2009 - 16:45

The EEPR Regulation created the basis for providing
substantial co-financing from the Union budget to key energy
projects. Never before has the EU agreed to dedicate such a
significant amount to energy infrastructures. The €3.98
billion budget for the implementation of the Regulation is
allocated as follows:

1. gas and electricity infrastructure projects:
Euro 2.365 billion (60% of budget)

2. offshore wind energy projects (OWE):
Euro 0.565 billion (14% of budget)

3. carbon capture and storage projects (CCS):
Euro 1.05 billion (26% of budget)'


Grants totalling £103 million have been made by the European
Energy Programme to the Scottish wind industry:

http://www.greenwisebusiness.co.uk/news/uk-gets-a-total-of-266m-in-eu-grants-for-wind-and-ccs-development-985.aspx

'"UK gets a total of £266m in EU grants for wind and CCS
development"
Elaine Brass
10th December 2009

Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission, a division of Scottish
and Southern Energy, will receive £67 million to build an
intermediary platform on its planned high-voltage direct
current link between Shetland and Scottish mainland to
connect offshore wind and marine generation.

Meanwhile, Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm Ltd, will receive £36
million to develop a wind deployment facility for the
testing of multi MW turbines and to optimise the
manufacturing capacities of offshore wind energy production
equipment.'


Stephen Prower

Stevenage

Thursday 26 April 2012

Apr 26, 2012 at 5:19 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Prower

Let us not forget the Yes Minister sketch on opinion polls. Asked questions that are all slanted the one way and you will get the answer you are wanting. So they did not ask questions like
1. Do you think that wind farms should be located in areas of outstanding natural beauty?
2. Do you think that ordinary working people and pensioners should pay subsidies to wealthy landowners?
3. If you were moving to a rural area, or the coast, would the presence of a wind farm affect your decision?
4. Do you support the building of gas-fired power stations to generate power for the 70-80% of the time when your typical windmill is not operating?

One should always independently check the costs as well. The 2p per day - is that just for the windmills, or the extra power lines as well. Is it currently - or when the full number is built. Does it include the increased unit costs of conventional (fossil fuelled) backup power? Figures are even more notoriously prone to bias than opinion polls!

Apr 26, 2012 at 8:25 PM | Registered CommenterKevin Marshall

Did the survey mention that wind power is 10x (or whatever) more expensive ? Or was this glossed over ?

Apr 28, 2012 at 6:00 AM | Unregistered CommenterPunksta

Bishop Hill

Re Punksta's question, I've only seen the four survey
questions in the short document 'RenewableUK Strategies:
Wind Power omnibus research' at:

http://www.ipsos-mori.com/Assets/Docs/Polls/renewable-uk-wind-power-topline-april.pdf

It would be helpful to know if the survey did ask more
questions before answering, but I shall answer on the basis
of the questions that I have seen.


1. Out of the four questions in the document 'RenewableUK
Strategies: Wind Power omnibus research' there is one
question on the topic of the cost of wind energy, namely:

'RWO3 According to RenewableUK calculations based on
official figures from Ofgem (the energy regulator), during
the financial year 2010/20 11 the average UK household
contributed £7.74 of their energy bill (equivalent to around
2p per day), towards the development of wind energy as part
of the Government’s Renewables Obligation. To what extent do
you believe this to be good or poor value for money for UK
energy consumers?
Base: All respondents (1009 people)
(Single response only)'.

As you can see, the question implies to casual readers of
the question that the total charge upon the domestic
consumer towards the cost of wind energy over and above
conventionally-generated energy, not just the charge on the
consumer's bill towards the development cost, is 2p per day.

Equally it implies more simply to uninformed respondents to
the survey that globally the only charge of wind energy upon
the domestic consumer is the Renewables Obligation charge.


2. In fact the 2p per day levy is not the only charge upon
the consumer for the 'development of wind energy'. The
domestic consumer also pays for the development of wind
energy in the charge upon general taxation of Government and
EU subsidies towards the cost of developing wind energy.


3. And of course the question quietly passes over Punksta's
point, to phrase matters uncontroversially, that the
electricity suppliers may get less 'usable' or 'useful'
power for their pound from wind-generated electricity than
from conventionally-generated electricity.

The wind may blow at times when conventional power stations
can meet the demand for electricity without its help.

Or vice-versa. The electricity supplier cannot rely upon the
contribution of wind-generated electricity towards meeting
peak demand -- the wind may just not be blowing at the
relevant time. So there must be back-up, whether from
elsewhere on the grid, whether from other countries feeding
electricity into the grid, or from back-up conventional
power stations on permanent standby.

The implication of these facts is a greater global cost
of wind-generated energy than conventionally-generated
energy, so higher electricity tariffs for the domestic
consumer.


4. You could sum it up as the 'storage problem'.

You can't practically--let alone economically--store
electricity that is generated when you don't need it for
when you do need it.

But if you therefore transmit it into the grid of another
country that does, by contrast, at the same time need it
(or eg set it to draining the Thames Estuary for the
construction of a new London airport), again it's not there
when you need it.

Governments should have cracked the storage problem first,
then encouraged the construction of wind farms afterwards.

No commercial firm spending its own money would have behaved
the way that Governments have done.


5. I haven't read anywhere how many extra pence per day, or
pounds per annum, the greater global cost of wind-generated
energy is also adding to the average UK household's
electricity bill. But it could already amount to an important
sum. Certainly if wind power is, to adopt Punksta's figure,
10x more expensive than conventional power, then it will
already add up an important sum.


Stephen Prower

Stevenage

Saturday 28 April 2012

Apr 28, 2012 at 10:37 PM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Prower

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