Opposition to nuclear technology has fallen significantly in the European Union in light of the ongoing energy crisis, according to a survey by the Századvég Foundation published on Wednesday. Whereas in the autumn of 2021, 26% of Europeans had opposed the use of nuclear energy, their share dropped to 15% by autumn 2022, the think-tank said. Following a “series of warnings” by professional organisations, the energy crisis proved that Europe needs nuclear power plants capable of providing cheap energy that is low on harmful emissions, Századvég said in a statement. “But a section of the Western political elite continues to stick to an ideology-driven anti-nuclear energy stance, urging the shutdown of existing power plants and blocking investments in new ones,” it added. However, support for nuclear energy among the European public has grown significantly in the past year, they said. Fully 40% of Europeans now say the continent should use nuclear technology to produce a considerable amount or a lot of energy, compared with 26% a year ago. The share of those who say Europe should not produce too much or should only produce a small amount of nuclear energy is unchanged at 35%, they said. Meanwhile, the share of those who completely oppose nuclear energy has fallen to 15% from 26%, Századvég said.
The think-tank pointed out that support for and opposition to nuclear power has flipped completely over the last six years. Whereas in 2016, 41% of Europeans had been against nuclear technology and 15% in favour of it, those supporting nuclear energy now represent 40% of the European public, while the share of those who oppose it has dropped to 15%. Though support for nuclear energy varies widely among EU countries, views appear to be converging, with drastic changes seen in member states that oppose nuclear power, Századvég said.