Harris Interactive, one of the world’s top custom market research firms, in conjunction with the Financial Times, conducted a poll in the United States and in five of Europe’s largest countries in an effort to gauge attitudes toward investment in renewable energy and nuclear power. Over 6,000 people were polled from various backgrounds. The poll ascertained that while a large majority supports renewable energy sources like wind and solar power, public opinion has wavered on the issue of nuclear power.
The poll found that in France, 77% of respondents favored building more wind farms, while the numbers were as high as 90% in Spain and 87% in the United States. However, when asked about nuclear power, attitudes were mixed in the United States and Britain, whereas in Spain, France, and Italy a majority clearly opposed the expansion of nuclear power.
When respondents were asked, “How much do you favor or oppose the building of new nuclear power plants?” opinions were mixed, although a small minority in every country polled were “strongly in favor.” Results were similar when asked, “How much do you favor or oppose a financial subsidy by the government for the development of nuclear power?” 58% in the U.S. either strongly opposed or opposed more than favored nuclear subsidies, while on the other side of the spectrum numbers in Germany were much higher, hovering around 80%. The poll thus effectively demonstrated that attitudes toward nuclear power are lukewarm at best, if not decidedly against.
The poll also found that while many are in favor of renewable energy options, few are willing to pay much more for alternative energy sources. In all countries polled, most respondents said that they would either pay no more or up to 5% more, whereas a small minority said that they would be willing to pay too much more–in both Spain and France, less than 20% said they would pay over 5% for renewable energy, while in the United States and Italy, numbers hovered around 30%.
Harris Interactive conducted an almost identical poll two years ago, and while the results for most questions were largely the same, the popularity of investing in nuclear power has decreased, particularly in Germany and Italy.
If the Harris Interactive poll is any indication of attitudes toward renewable energy globally, then it is clear that public backing of more nuclear plants is faltering, and more and more people are placing greater faith in new technologies like wind and biofuel energy.
The data tables from the poll can be found in PDF format on Harris Interactive’s website.
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