UK nuclear support bounces back

03 July 2012

Support for nuclear energy as part of the UK's energy mix has increased over the last year with 63% agreeing that it has a role to play, an opinion poll commissioned by EDF Energy has found.  

Zingy (EDF Energy)_200  
Zingy: helping EDF Energy customers
to feel better (Image: EDF Energy)

EDF commissioned international market research company YouGov to carry out the annual poll of over 4000 people, who were questioned over 4 days in June. Just over a year on from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident, the survey found that 63% of those polled agreed that nuclear should be part of the UK's energy balance, up from 61% last year. The proportion feeling that nuclear should not play any part fell to 11%, down from 15% in 2011.

Net support for the construction of new nuclear power plants to replace existing ones has risen from 46% in the last poll and now stands at 50%, while the number opposed to building nuclear stations on the sites of existing ones has fallen to 22%, its lowest level since 2008. In March last year, shortly after Fukushima, 30% of Britons were against the idea.

EDF Energy is preparing to make its final investment decision on plans to build a new nuclear power station at Hinkley Point in Somerset and is also planning a new station at Sizewell in Suffolk. Chief executive Vincent de Rivaz said that he was "encouraged" to see that nuclear had bounced back after Fukushima, although he described a decline in interest in climate change revealed by the survey as "worrying". Only 59% of those polled said they were interested in global warming and climate change, continuing a downward trend from the 72% recorded in 2008.

The survey found that although the UK public is generally in favour of wind energy, support for building wind farms has been falling over the past five years. Support for new onshore wind farms 'to fill the energy gap' now stands at 57%, down from 64% in 2011, while the 68% in favour of offshore wind farms for that purpose is down from 74% last year. Only 39% of people had heard about governmental plans for energy reform, although more people were in favour of plans to encourage investment in low-carbon energy through fixed electricity generation prices (35%) than against (18%).

Several separate surveys carried out over the past year have all pointed to a restoration of public support for nuclear energy in the UK following an initial dip immediately after the Fukushima accident of March 2011. A survey carried out by Ipsos-Mori in January concluded that UK anti-nuclear feeling in the wake of the Japanese accident had likely been no more than a temporary "blip".

Feel-good factor

EDF Energy operates eight nuclear power stations in the UK and already lays claim to being the UK's largest generator of low-carbon energy. As well as being an official partner and electricity supplier of the forthcoming London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the company recently launched its "Feel Better Energy" campaign to underline its customer commitments. The character Zingy was created for the campaign by Californian robotic company BeatBots. He can trace his ancestry back to the KeepOn Pro, a social robot which has been widely used to interact with children with developmental disorders such as autism.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News