Informed Public Attitudes towards Fusion Energy in Europe

Catrinel Turcanu, Cristian Oltra, Ana Prades, C. Jones, Ana Delicado, L. Schmidt

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    Assessing public attitudes towards fusion energy and research is a relevant issue for the fusion community and the broader energy policy community in Europe. How familiar are the European citizens with fusion energy How do the general public in Europe perceive the potential benefits and costs of fusion Do they accept and support further fusion developments in their country and the European Union These and other related questions are the objective of this research report developed in the context of the SES Programme within EUROFUSION. Social research within SES has previously addressed these topics in a number of qualitative and survey studies (see for instance Prades et al., 2009; the SCK•CEN Barometer, 2015 or the study by Sarah Medley, Christopher Jones and Sophie Yardley (2017). However, cross-country in-depth survey research into public attitudes and acceptance of nuclear fusion in Europe was lacking. This report is the result of a research carried out in 2018 to collect cross-national data on public attitudes towards fusion energy and research. The basis for this research were stablished in the preparatory work carried out within SES in the period 2014-17 which pointed out some possible research paths that could be followed in the next years. Survey research has been widely used to assess public attitudes on emerging technologies (Gupta, Fischer, and Frewer 2012). A key issue when assessing public acceptance of energy technologies is the fact that, often, they are not well known yet, which produces the problem of “pseudo opinions” and “non- attitudes”(De Best-Waldhober & Daamen, 2006). For instance, it is common that despite the fact that survey participants know little about some technology (like CCS, GM food or hydrogen), they express an opinion. Consequently, their views tend to be unstable and very sensitive to contextual change. Given the public's limited awareness and lack of knowledge about fusion (Prades et al, 2008), this is an essential methodological challenge that has to be taken into account in researching public attitudes towards fusion energy.
    Original languageEnglish
    Number of pages56
    StatePublished - 1 Apr 2019

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