Polls show growing support for nuclear

17 March 2009

Results from a multinational public opinion poll indicate that people around the world are growing more supportive of nuclear energy in line with their access to information on it. A separate poll also shows increasing support in Poland.
The Multinational Nuclear Power Pulse Survey, conducted by global management consulting and technology company Accenture in November 2008, comprised a series of 20-minute interviews conducted online in native languages, with 10,508 individuals in 20 countries participating. The survey was conducted in Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, Russia, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, the UK and the USA.
Some 29% of respondents in the poll said that they support the use or increased use of nuclear power outright, with a further 40% saying that they would support nuclear power if their concerns about it were overcome.
Overall, sentiment has swung in favour of nuclear energy, with 29% of respondents saying they are more supportive of their country introducing or increasing the use of nuclear than they were three years ago. However, 19% of respondents said they were less supportive than they were three years ago.
Forty-three percent of respondents see nuclear power as a means to achieving a low-carbon future, with 9% calling for an increase in nuclear energy alone to help reduce fossil fuel dependency. A further 34% said there should be a mix of nuclear energy and renewable energy.
Sander van 't Noordende, group chief executive of Accenture's Resources operating group, said: "Concerns over energy security, volatile fossil-fuel prices and climate change have made nuclear energy more popular with consumers." However, he warned, "Policy makers and generators should not assume that this makes consent easy to achieve or maintain. Government and the energy industry must take note of the continued fragility of popular support for nuclear power."
The top three concerns of those respondents who said they opposed the use of nuclear energy in their countries were issues related to waste disposal, safety and decommissioning. These concerns were cited by 91%, 90% and 80% of those opposing respondents, respectively. In each case, Accenture said, 45% of those who oppose nuclear power said that more information on these issues would make them change their minds either completely or to some extent.
However, the survey indicated that only 28% of respondents said they were either well or very well informed about their country's strategy regarding nuclear power.
"Transparent information is the most important driver of consumer support, and our survey findings show that public opinion can be changed significantly on the basis of available information," said Daniel Krueger, head of Accenture's nuclear energy practice. He added, "Governments need to be clearer about the reasons for their nuclear energy strategies in order to ensure that public support aligns with their decisions to increase, decrease or maintain their nuclear energy commitment."
Polish poll
A recent public opinion poll in Poland also shows that public approval for the construction of a nuclear power plant in the country is growing.
The survey, conducted in early March by GfK Polonia on behalf of the Rzeczpospolita newspaper, shows that 40% of the 1000 Poles questioned support the construction of a nuclear power plant, with 42% opposing. A similar poll conducted in January showed that 33% supported building a plant, while 56% were against the move.
Analysts cited in Polish media said that the increase in support is due to the public becoming more aware of the country's dependency on Russia in meeting its energy needs.