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The World Wants New Nuclear

Updated: Mar 25

Findings from the latest and "most comprehensive recent multinational survey of public attitudes to nuclear energy", jointly presented by Clearpath, RePlanet, Thirdway and Potential Energy Coalition.

Pro nuclear activists gather in Berlin, April 2023

Pro nuclear activists gather in Berlin, April 2023 - photo credit: Stand Up For Nuclear

What does the report say?

Statistically robust surveys were recently performed in eight countries on three continents, revealing many insights into attitudes regarding nuclear energy. Most dramatically, in spite of significant gaps in public knowledge, a majority agree overall with the survey statement "I support the use of the latest nuclear energy technologies to generate electricity, alongside other energy sources" (except Japan at 45%), representing "an average of five supporters for every opponent."

Towards the end of the process, the surveyors asked respondents to "come off the fence": Do you believe that advanced nuclear technologies should be an important part of the solution to our energy challenges? They report that even in Japan two thirds chose 'yes', and in Poland it was every eight in ten.

Other exciting results include:

  • Environmental group members are strong supporters of advanced nuclear.

Graph with polling results showing strong support for nuclear among members of environmental groups
  • The young are particularly receptive, with little opposition anywhere.

  • Support for advanced nuclear is not political and comes from almost all parties.

  • Most people see the need for and benefits of advanced nuclear, and are not put off by perceptions of cost, safety, or waste.

  • Most people value the roles advanced nuclear can play to secure our future and are open to hearing about the issues.

Environmental group members are strong supporters of advanced nuclear.

Finally, a particularly illuminating result is that almost all unshiftable opposition "comes from a small, distinct segment whose members are older, skeptical about innovation, and unmovable in their views."Factual information provided through the survey process was doubted or disbelieved by this segment, which made up less than a sixth of the eight country sample.

How does this relate to the situation in Australia?

An image of former Australian chief scientists Alan Finkel

Image: Alan Finkel (2019), credit Peter Hannam

Australia was not in the group of surveyed countries, however it's interesting to infer potential parallels with recent national polling related to views on nuclear energy. The 2021 results of Essential polling indicated 50% overall support for "developing nuclear power plants for the generation of electricity", which continued a steady increase on 2019 results. Other contemporaneous surveys indicate similar or even higher support.

Furthermore, the segment of Australians opposed to nuclear energy is distinctly outweighed by those in favour – in line with the new multinational survey. If there's only one definite conclusion to be drawn from such polling, it's that nuclear energy is not unpopular.

The survey reported that "most people are receptive to the “nuclear” name and hearing from the nuclear industry, as well as from environmental groups." While Australia is already a nuclear nation, a commercial nuclear industry is still forbidden by federal legislation. Yet we are still home to numerous experts and centres of excellence. RePlanet Australia is committed to drawing on this knowledge to help even more Australians feel comfortable and supportive of this technology in anticipation of its potential future contributions.

Read the full report here.

Oscar Archer - Author of the blog

Oscar Archer is a member of RePlanet Australia. He holds a PhD in chemistry and has been analysing energy issues for over 15 years, focusing on nuclear technology for nine, with a background in manufacturing and QA. Find him on Twitter - @OskaArcher


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