Opposition to nuclear technology has fallen significantly in the European Union in light of the ongoing energy crisis, according a survey by the government-close Századvég Foundation published on Wednesday.
Whereas in the autumn of 2021, 26 percent of Europeans had opposed the use of nuclear energy, their share dropped to 15 percent by autumn 2022, the think-tank said. Following a “series of warnings” by professional organisations, the energy crisis proved that Europe needs nuclear power plants capable of providing cheap energy that is low on harmful emissions, Századvég said in a statement.
“But a section of the Western political elite continues to stick to an ideology-driven anti-nuclear energy stance, urging the shutdown of existing power plants and blocking investments in new ones,” it added. However, support for nuclear energy among the European public has grown significantly in the past year, they said. Fully 40 percent of Europeans now say the continent should use nuclear technology to produce a considerable amount or a lot of energy, compared with 26 percent a year ago. The share of those who say Europe should not produce too much or should only produce a small amount of nuclear energy is unchanged at 35 percent, they said. Meanwhile, the share of those who completely oppose nuclear energy has fallen to 15 percent from 26 percent, Századvég said.
The think-tank pointed out that support for and opposition to nuclear power has flipped completely over the last six years. Whereas in 2016, 41 percent of Europeans had been against nuclear technology and 15 percent in favour of it, those supporting nuclear energy now represent 40 percent of the European public, while the share of those who oppose it has dropped to 15 percent.
Though support for nuclear energy varies widely among EU countries, views appear to be converging, with drastic changes seen in member states that oppose nuclear power, Századvég said.
Support for the use of a lot of nuclear energy is highest in Czechia (32 percent), followed by Bulgaria (30 percent) and France (27 percent). Századvég noted that as much as 68 percent of Hungarians supported both options that Europe should use a considerable amount or a lot of nuclear energy.
Századvég ‘s survey found that opposition to nuclear energy in member states that are generally against the use of this energy source had dropped over the past year. In Austria, it fell to 47 percent from 57 percent, in Cyprus to 37 percent from 41 percent, in Greece to 30 percent from 45 percent and in Portugal to 29 percent from 46 percent.
Meanwhile, in Latvia, the share of those who said Europe should not use nuclear energy at all has fallen from 34 percent to 12 percent over the past year.
In addition to the EU member states, the Project Europe research covered the United Kingdom, Norway, Switzerland, Moldova, Albania, Kosovo, North Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia, Bulgaria and Bosnia-Herzegovina, with 38,000 randomly selected adults interviewed by phone between Oct. 13 and Dec. 7.