Finns more positive towards nuclear

15 February 2010

Almost half of Finns are now in favour of nuclear power, an opinion poll commissioned by Finland's energy industry has found.
The percentage of Finns whose attitude towards nuclear power is positive, at 48%, far outweighs the 17% with negative attitudes recorded in the poll, which was commissioned by national industrial association Finnish Energy Industries (Energiateollisuus, ET). Some 29% of respondents' attitudes were classed as neutral, with only 5% of the 1000 respondents returning a 'don't know'.

Loviisa 1 and 2
Finland's Loviisa nuclear plant (Image: Fortum)
According to ET, the numerical difference between positive and negative sectors has never been so wide before during the 28 years for which results are available. With nearly three decades of results at ET's disposal, it is clear that nuclear's position has been strengthening steadily, growing from just 24% in favour in 1982. The percentage opposing nuclear has fallen just as steadily over time, from a peak of just over 50% in the early 1980s.
The survey also found the highest ever proportion of young people aged 15-24 in favour of nuclear power, at 30%. The percentage of 15-24 year olds registering negative attitudes was likewise the lowest the surveys have ever recorded, at 10%.
One factor highlighted by ET's Jukka Leskela in strengthening support for nuclear is a greater understanding of climate change issues and nuclear power's potential role in helping to cut carbon dioxide emissions.
The opinion poll was carried out by TNS Gallup Oy over one week in January. One thousand Finns aged 15 and over were interviewed on their general opinions of nuclear power a Finnish context. The poll also broke down attitudes based on gender, age, and political alignment. General attitudes towards nuclear were found to be most negative among voters who support the Green movement, but even there the proportion expressing negative attitudes to nuclear had shown a dramatic fall, from 57% five years ago to 37% today, with 21% of Green voters in favour of nuclear energy.
The poll also found increasingly nuclear-positive attitudes amongst women, with 33% now in favour and 23% against. Until recent years, negative attitudes towards nuclear power had been more prevalent among Finland's women.
New build decision this year?
Finland's four operating nuclear reactors are among the most efficient in the world and already provide 27% of its electricity. A fifth reactor, Olikluoto 3, is under construction, and last year two companies, Fennovoima and Fortum, each submitted applications to the Finnish government for a decision-in-principle to build Finland's sixth nuclear plant.
Speaking on national radio station YLE, Finland's prime minister Matti Vanhanen reiterated his belief that parliament could make a decision on the plans for a sixth unit before its summer recess.


Researched and written

by World Nuclear News