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Nuclear & the Energy Mix

What the young generation of Nuclear Future readers think about...Nuclear Technology and the Energy Mix


In the first instalment of the YGN’s opinion polling, we asked the young generation of Nuclear Future readers for their opinion on nuclear technology and the energy mix. Read on to find out more about the much anticipated results.

When asked about the current contribution that nuclear energy makes to the UK’s electricity mix (c. 20%), the vast majority of respondents thought this was lower than it should be; 78% of people said it was either ‘far too low’ or ‘somewhat low’. Then, when asked what they thought the contribution of nuclear energy would be in 2050, 87% of respondents answered that it would be 21% or more, indicating that the young generation are confident their aspirations for nuclear to play a larger role in the UK’s energy mix will be realised.


New nuclear technologies such as small modular reactors (SMRs) and nuclear fusion plants could be deployed to increase nuclear energy’s contribution to the UK electricity mix, so we asked the young generation how likely they thought these technologies would be deployed commercially in the UK by 2050. The young generation appear to be optimistic that SMRs can play a role by 2050, with 59% of respondents saying that the deployment of SMRs by 2050 was either ‘highly likely’ or ‘fairly likely’. The confidence in fusion technology wasn’t quite as profound; with 78% of respondents indicating that the commercial deployment of fusion energy by 2050 was either ‘highly unlikely’ or ‘fairly unlikely’.


The final section of the poll asked about the perceived barriers to deploying these new nuclear technologies. Of the 9 high-level areas posed in the question, financing the capital investment to construct the plants, and commitment from government and vendors were clearly seen as the largest obstructions. Public opinion and uncompetitive costs of nuclear electricity were also seen as significant barriers. An open question to name barriers not listed in the question also revealed a number of other perceived issues to deploying new nuclear technologies by 2050, which included: increased competition from renewables, if another nuclear accident were to occur, the need for a geological disposal facility, the performance of current new build and decommissioning programmes, and the current unstable political environment.

The polling was carried out using Survey Monkey during March and April 2018, and the total number of responses received was 95.


Author: Reuben Holmes (YGN Nuclear Future Coordinator)