Task 2.1: Public attitudes towards fusion energy Results from a survey in the Belgian population: WP SES – Social Studies. Report to EUROFusion

Catrinel Turcanu, Tanja Perko, Ana Prades, Cristian Oltra

    Research outputpeer-review


    In the framework of the Socio-Economic Studies Project implemented under the EUROFusion Consortium one of the focus points for the sociological research to be carried out within the 2014-2018 timeframe concerns public awareness and acceptance of fusion energy. A research section dedicated to fusion energy was included into a larger survey dealing with public perceptions and attitudes towards nuclear energy and other applications of ionising radiation, carried out with a representative sample of the Belgian adult (18+) population.
    Only 35% of the respondents had previously heard of nuclear fusion. Among those, there is a low familiarity with the topic and relatively frequent confusions with nuclear fission (or difficulties to distinguish between fusion and fission) or the CERN particle accelerator.
    The most often encountered frame in the respondents' answers to an open question about fusion indicated the neutral or mostly scientific frame ("Fusion on Earth") as the dominant frame. This does not correspond to the dominant frame in the Belgian media in the last 15 years, which focused more on fusion as a "social or political game".
    In general, there is a low recall of media reporting about fusion energy. TV is the main information source about fusion, but internet comes out as the third most important source. Among the internet sources, pages from various organisations are the second most frequently used source.
    Fusion as a potentially unlimited source of energy is perceived as the most important argument in favour of continuing the research on fusion energy, while the competition for financial resources with renewables seems to be the most important negative aspect.
    Opinion about fusion energy is largely positive, with almost one out every two respondents considering it a good or very good energy option, while one in three is undecided. Opinion about nuclear energy and the attitude towards science and technology are positively correlated with the opinion about fusion energy, but their explanatory power is limited. Finally the order of presentation of positive and negative aspects, respectively, did not have a statistically significant influence on the opinion about fusion energy.
    Further research results will be reported in a future publication.
    Original languageEnglish
    PublisherSCK CEN
    Number of pages22
    StatePublished - Feb 2016

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