The clock is ticking: Understanding the ‘mixed feelings’ about fusion energy in Europe

Christopher R. Jones, Christian Oltra, Alessio Giacometti, Vanja Čok, Janez Povh, Ursa Lamut, Gaston Meskens, Joke Kenens, Robbe Geysmans, Catrinel Turcanu, Zoltan Ferencz, Maria Teresa Orlando, Chiara Bustreo

    Research outputpeer-review


    If it can be made to work, fusion energy offers the potential for unlimited, clean energy. This prospect has seen substantial investment in the science and engineering behind fusion in order to demonstrate its viability. As key societal stakeholders, the opinions and actions of publics can shape the success of emerging energy technologies. To date, however, there have been relatively few studies focused on the public acceptability of fusion. The current study provides insight into public perspectives about fusion in five European countries (Belgium, Hungary, Italy, Slovenia and Spain). Using a qualitative ‘World Café’ type method, participants (n = 10–25 per country) were provided with basic and balanced information about fusion, before being invited to discuss the risks, benefits and drawbacks of the technology and investment in its development. Transcripts from each World Café were subject to template analysis. The results indicated that while awareness of fusion was low in each country, participants were broadly supportive of fusion. This support was, however, tentative due to its commercially unproven nature. This stimulated questions about the value of investment in the technology, particularly given the urgency of addressing climate change. While there was some variation in the sub-topics raised and discussed in each country, the principal themes raised were broadly comparable. These findings add to our systematic understanding of the ‘mixed feelings’ held about fusion and have implications for future public engagement and communication efforts relating to the technology.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number103538
    Number of pages17
    JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
    StatePublished - Jul 2024


    This work has been carried out within the framework of the EUROfusion Consortium, funded by the European Union via the Euratom Research and Training Programme (Grant Agreement No 101052200 \u2014 EUROfusion). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the author(s) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Commission. Neither the European Union nor the European Commission can be held responsible for them.

    FundersFunder number
    EC - European Commission101052200 — EUROfusion

      ASJC Scopus subject areas

      • Renewable Energy, Sustainability and the Environment
      • Nuclear Energy and Engineering
      • Fuel Technology
      • Energy Engineering and Power Technology
      • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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