Opinion favours nuclear

29 April 2008

Unrelated surveys of public opinion have found continued support for the use of nuclear energy in both the USA and Russia, while US citizens are firmly in favour of federal incentives for the development of carbon-free energy options including nuclear.


A survey of 1000 US citizens carried out by Bisconti Research and published by the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) found broad support for possible future nuclear construction projects, strong support for the continued use of the country's existing nuclear plants, and even stronger support for the use of federal incentives to promote the development carbon-free energy technologies including advanced-design nuclear power plants.


Eighty-four percent of those polled agreed that the USA should take advantage of all low-carbon energy sources including nuclear, hydro and renewable energy, with nearly 80% feeling that financial incentives such as tax credits should be used to help push the development of such technologies. Some 78% agreed that electricity companies should be preparing now so that nuclear plants could be built in the next decade, if needed, while 59% agreed that the US should "definitely" build more nuclear power plants.


Overall, 63% of those surveyed favoured the use of nuclear energy in the USA, with 33% opposing it, with the proportion of people "strongly" in favour, at 28%, double the 14% who described themselves as strongly opposed to nuclear.


The poll found that although nuclear energy appears to be linked clearly in the minds of the survey participants with its role as a clean air energy supply that can help tackle global climate change, economic growth is now classed as citizens' top concern ahead of climate change and the need for energy security. This is in sharp contrast to the results from a similar Bisconti Research survey in October 2007, when climate change came in at the top of the list of "most important" issues and economic growth at the bottom. Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research, was keen to put this finding into perspective. "These numbers do not mean that the public is less worried about global climate change than they were last year; economic growth is simply a greater concern at this time," she said, noting that the results showed an ongoing clear public mandate for climate change solutions.


Don't stop, say Russians


A survey carried out by Russia's Levada Center has found that 72% of Russians feel that nuclear power should be "preserved or actively developed". Forty-one percent of those polled felt that nuclear would be the "only alternative" to the use of gas and oil, with hydro power and coal seen as other possible alternatives but only scoring 18% and 10% respectively, according to reports from the Interfax news agency.


The Levada Center describes itself as one of Russia's largest public opinion and market research companies, and carried out the survey on the 22nd anniversary of the nuclear power plant accident at Chernobyl in Ukraine. Over half those polled expressed themselves as "indignant" about attempts by the Soviet authorities to "hush up" the accident at the time.