This group brings together the best thinkers on energy and climate. Join us for smart, insightful posts and conversations about where the energy industry is and where it is going.

Post

When the Public Knows Nukes it Supports Them

75 Percent of those ‘Very well informed’ favor nuclear energy.

Familiarity with nuclear energy and its role as a reliable producer of low-carbon electricity increases support for the technology, according to a new national public opinion survey.

“There’s a direct connection between feeling knowledgeable about nuclear energy and favoring it,” said Ann Bisconti, president of Bisconti Research.

Among respondents who feel very well-informed about nuclear energy, 75 percent are in favor and 54 percent are strongly favorable. In contrast, only 18 percent of the self-described “very well-informed” group strongly opposes it.

“Those who feel very well-informed about a topic are more likely to become activists for nuclear energy, so this divide is significant,” Bisconti said.

The survey found that only one-fifth of Americans feel very well-informed about nuclear energy; 42 percent feel somewhat well-informed.

However, after learning that nuclear energy is the only large-scale source of clean air energy, 86 percent said it should be an important energy source in the future.

This includes 59 percent of respondents who initially said they oppose nuclear energy.

The survey asked about potential solutions for electricity market challenges that have caused the premature shutdown of some nuclear power plants over the past three years and that have more facilities at risk of premature closure. Half of the sample was presented with this exercise.

After learning about the challenge, only 12 percent wanted to shut down the facilities; 88 percent favor enacting one or more proposed solutions to market imbalances, citing the need to protect jobs and maintain a large-scale source of clean air electricity.

“The preferred solutions involved creating the same market incentives for nuclear energy as other zero-carbon energy sources as an alternative to natural gas,” Bisconti said.

“That includes setting the cost of electricity at the lowest level that also preserves nuclear energy and also providing the same financial incentives to nuclear energy as those offered to renewables.”

Bisconti’s firm, along with Quest Global Research, conducted the survey of 1,000 nationally representative adults for the Nuclear Energy Institute from March 11 to April 11. It has a margin of error of plus or minus three percentage points. Five hundred respondents were polled by phone, and the other half responded via an online panel.

Nuclear energy facilities operating in 30 states produce electricity for one of every five U.S. homes and businesses. They produce 62 percent of our nation’s carbon-free electricity. The survey showed steady support for nuclear energy, with 67 percent in favor. Favorability has consistently been in the mid- to upper sixties for the past decade, and has trended upward since NEI began its polling in 1983.

The survey found consistent support for a diverse electricity mix, with 95 percent of Americans expressing support. Eighty-two percent agree that “we should take advantage of all low-carbon energy sources, including nuclear, hydro and renewable energy, to produce the electricity we need while limiting greenhouse gas emissions.”

The survey also found:

  • 82 percent support license renewal for nuclear energy facilities that continue to meet federal safety standards.
  • 69 percent agree that “nuclear power plants operating in the United States are safe and secure.”
  • 76 percent believe the U.S. nuclear industry should play a leading role as countries around the world build new nuclear energy facilities.

Download the full survey report from NEI’s web site.

Original Post

Dan Yurman's picture

Thank Dan for the Post!

Energy Central contributors share their experience and insights for the benefit of other Members (like you). Please show them your appreciation by leaving a comment, 'liking' this post, or following this Member.

Discussions

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on May 5, 2016 6:25 pm GMT

As a member of the public who knows the finances of new nuclear in comparison with other energy sources, I do not support it. I honestly don’t see how anyone could.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 6, 2016 4:04 pm GMT

Stephen, please inform the Energy Information Administration of your findings.

They’re under the mistaken impression that their model, which incorporates over 400 factors to calculate a total system Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE), and finds nuclear cheaper than every other carbon-free source except for wind, geothermal, and hydro – is an accurate one.

https://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/electricity_generation.cfm

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on May 6, 2016 5:22 pm GMT

I agree that reactors are much safer than they use to be, but economically competitive?
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffmcmahon/2011/04/22/safer-nuclear-reactor...

Forecasts are nice, but I don’t know of a single US reactor that has ever been built on time or on budget. Do you?

For a truly long term vision, shouldn’t we invest in high technologies that harvest and store energy from that enormous natural fusion reactor in the sky?

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 6, 2016 10:45 pm GMT

I don’t know of a single US reactor that has ever been built on time or on budget. Do you?

It was unremarkable for nuclear plants built under AEC auspices to come in under budget, ahead of schedule or both.  The NRC changed all that, and was intended to.

For an example of what things can be like without a hostile, punitive regulatory regime, see what India managed with a pair of CANDUs.

shouldn’t we invest in high technologies that harvest and store energy from that enormous natural fusion reactor in the sky?

Unless you go into high orbit, you still have this little problem called “night”.  Anywhere on Earth away from equatorial latitudes you have seasons which vary your availability opposite to your needs.

Unless and until you have a proven solution, we don’t have time to waste on blather like “long-term visions”.  We have a massive and immediate problem that will not wait.

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on May 6, 2016 11:38 pm GMT

Night is, of course, why I mentioned storage.

Dr. Daniel Nocera thinks a solar fuel economy is very possible soon if not immediately….

http://eandt.theiet.org/news/2015/apr/solar-fuel-economy-is-imminent.cfm

And phenomenal breakthroughs are being made all the time…

http://cen.acs.org/articles/94/web/2016/02/Nanoscale-system-reaches-perf...

Dr Stuart Licht claims his process could reduce atmospheric CO2 down to preindustrial levels within a single decade…

http://www.acs.org/content/acs/en/pressroom/newsreleases/2015/august/co2...

I don’t see why the above advanced technologies can not be situated in equatorial ocean latitudes even to the point where they circle the globe such that sunlight is constantly creating fuel

As immediate and massive the problem may be, no one is going to start building thousands upon thousands of nuclear fission reactors, advanced or otherwise, in the next few weeks or months

Yes, solar fusion has a solvable short term energy storage problem Nuclear fission has its own storage problem – long term waste storage

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 7, 2016 4:32 am GMT

Stephen, EIA doesn’t use cost projections as a basis for LCOE. LCOE is based on historical capital cost for existing plants – including overruns.

When antinukes start getting countersued for filing spurious lawsuits to run up legal expenses, nuclear will be even cheaper.

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on May 7, 2016 5:01 am GMT

As an engineer who understand what it takes to balance electricity supply and demand when that supply is intermittent, rather than dispatchable, I don’t support doing this. I’m certain that the public won’t accept any grid that does not let them use as much electricity as they want, anytime they want, always at a predictable cost.

I therefore conclude that solar+wind deployments must always be balanced by a majority fossil fuel contribution. In other words, solar+wind and all other non-nuclear paths only lead to continued dependence on fossil fuels, and unacceptable emission of pollutants.

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on May 7, 2016 6:30 am GMT

There is nothing anti-nuke about solar energy, Bob. It’s quite simple; The sun is the only natural fusion reactor in our solar system. It makes any reactor man could ever devise look like child’s play. It already powers the vast majority of our lives. If we wish to reach the next level of civilization, it is inevitable that human society adapt to our solar system’s primary energy source.

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on May 7, 2016 6:37 am GMT

“I therefore conclude that solar+wind deployments must always be balanced by a majority fossil fuel contribution. ”

What if carbon neutral or carbon negative solar fuels replace the role of fossil fuels? Nano materials engineers and chemical engineers are engineers as well aren’t they?

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 7, 2016 6:51 am GMT

Stephen, how is a PV panel more “natural” than a nuclear reactor?

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on May 7, 2016 7:26 am GMT

The reactor itself natural. It is at the perfect distance and our atmosphere is a nearly perfect shielding. Current solar panels (in the future solar and storage technology may well be fully integrated into every square inch of the buildings we build) are merely solid state energy harvesting materials that passively and ever more cheaply collect the energy we require. In this way solar energy collection is becoming every bit as natural as brick and mortar or the shingles on your rooftop or the glass in your bedroom window

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 7, 2016 7:36 am GMT

What if carbon neutral or carbon negative solar fuels replace the role of fossil fuels?

Show us how this might happen, preferably with at least pilot-scale examples of the technologies in action.

Nano materials engineers and chemical engineers are engineers as well aren’t they?

Engineers still have to obey the laws of physics and chemistry.  Fabulists can ignore them, and every other constraint.

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on May 7, 2016 1:10 pm GMT

I’ve supplied links twice now. For some reason they are being held up in moderation.

Bob Meinetz's picture
Bob Meinetz on May 7, 2016 2:03 pm GMT

Stephen, you hang tight for your ectopic utopia. The rest of us, we have work to do.

Stephen Nielsen's picture
Stephen Nielsen on May 7, 2016 2:55 pm GMT

This is chemistry and physics, not a vision of utopia, Bob. The sun is obviously far stronger than any reactor man could ever build and plant life has been harvesting and storing solar energy doing for hundreds of millions of years

Nathan Wilson's picture
Nathan Wilson on May 7, 2016 6:03 pm GMT

Biomass burning is a terrible idea due to the extremely large environmental footprint that it will always have (because biomass is an extremely dilute energy source).

I believe dispatchable fuel synthesis will be a major solution to energy supply/demand without fossil fuel. It works technically with nuclear or renewables but is crucial with renewables. Electric vehicles & batteries (like hydro) can be a big help to nuclear, but only a small help for sources with a small capacity factor.

[typically, technical people that use the term “solar fuels” instead of the more generic and useful “synfuel”, “electric fuels”, or “power-to-fuel”, are more interested in generating hype than making real progress.]

However, synfuel is not adequate to solve the political problems of high penetration renewables, which I believe are intractable for any nation with domestic fossil fuel reserves.
– Power-to-fuel systems will make fuel that is cost competitive with petroleum only by buying electricity at a deep discount (the lower the capacity factor, the deeper the discount), i.e. it must be subsidized by electricity users. Renewable systems will have a greater reliance on power-to-fuel, and lower capacity factor operation, thus a larger need for subsidies.
– Fuels in the price range of petroleum are too expensive to make electricity, unless they supply only a tiny fraction of the grid demand; which limits their potential contribution.
– The best renewable resources are not uniformly distributed. Appalachian coal miners will never agree to give up their jobs and energy dollars to import wind power from North Dakota and Solar from Nevada. Nor will they agree to pay double to get local renewable energy. A local nuclear plant is always appreciated by local communities.

The other factor that helps make the nuclear solution work is that at any given time about 75% of the fleet is old, and paid for, and making very cheap power. A wind farm wears out as soon as its mortgage is paid off.

Ultimately, the renewable lobby is not strong enough to convince the public to pay substantially more for clean energy, nor to tolerate wildly fluctuating electricity prices (consider how the public in India hates the frequent “power cuts” that they endure as a solution to grid unreliability).

Variable renewables work fine in a grid that is 80% fossil fuel, but large renewable penetration is a much much bigger challenge. All the renewable lobby has succeeded in doing is to help the fossil fuel industry fight off the nuclear competition, and this outcome is likely to continue until green groups endorse nuclear as an important part of our sustainable energy future.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on May 8, 2016 3:21 am GMT

Comments like this, and Nathan’s below, and those of far too many others on this site, are in part responsible for the negligence leading up to the historic wildfire catastrophes we now witness.

If you are such a concerned technology genius, Canada and the world would love your help stopping this. Scientists looking for solutions don’t need a nameless cartoon perpetually insulting them.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 8, 2016 5:46 am GMT

Comments like this, and Nathan’s below, and those of far too many others on this site, are in part responsible for the negligence leading up to the historic wildfire catastrophes we now witness.

I had to quote this in its entirety because of the sheer gall inherent in its premise.  I ask for proof that solar fuels are capable of doing what Nielsen advertises them for, and Engebretson accuses me of being responsible for Albertan wildfires.  Hint for you, Engbretson:  nature doesn’t care what you believe.  It is the ultimate arbiter and completely indifferent to human beliefs and delusions.

If you are such a concerned technology genius, Canada and the world would love your help stopping this. Scientists looking for solutions don’t need a nameless cartoon perpetually insulting them.

Tell me, Mr. Engbretson:  if the name attached to my comments was Albert Einstein or Lucifer N—-rbastard, would their truth vary one whit?  (Don’t follow that link if you are the least bit sensitive to any sort of offensive material.)

I have been an advocate of nuclear power since the 1970’s.  Had my comments been taken seriously from then until now, the climactic disruptions which have weakened the north polar vortex and led to the warming and drying of the northwestern Canadian reaches enabling the recent wildfires would very likely not have happened.  So, speaking frankly… fuck you and your ridiculous notions of responsibility for current events.

Rick Engebretson's picture
Rick Engebretson on May 8, 2016 9:55 am GMT

Proof of “solar fuels” is apparently common knowledge.

Recently watching a re-run of Ken Burns “National Parks” it was described that an early explorer of Yellowstone (1872?), lost without matches and only an opera glass, was able to make fire. Neither the modern documentary audience nor the reading public of the time needed to be filled in with details as you do.

As for my credentials, efforts to combine biophysical chemistry and solid state physics culminated in a letter from the Governor that nobody at Minnesota or Wisconsin could read the new science thesis. And I was too busy pushing fiber optics to baby sit. Fiber optics still would be better than an opera glass for “solar fuels,” and I still don’t baby sit.

There are expensive frauds and dangerous frauds. Nuke pushers can be the worst of both.

Engineer- Poet's picture
Engineer- Poet on May 8, 2016 3:18 pm GMT

Proof of “solar fuels” is apparently common knowledge.

Recently watching a re-run of Ken Burns “National Parks” it was described that an early explorer of Yellowstone (1872?), lost without matches and only an opera glass, was able to make fire.

In other words, he used a trivial amount of solar energy to enable his use of a REAL fuel.  Had it been winter he could have done without the opera glass by making a lens from a piece of sufficiently-clear ice.  What could he have done if it was cloudy or night?

As for my credentials, efforts to combine biophysical chemistry and solid state physics culminated in a letter from the Governor that nobody at Minnesota or Wisconsin could read the new science thesis.

I’d give you a common word used to describe unintelligible pseudoscientific works, but I’ve already used my allowance of vulgarities.

There are expensive frauds and dangerous frauds. Nuke pushers can be the worst of both.

Yet for all the tens of $billions spent on “renewables” there are multiple countries which have almost completely de-carbonized their electric power systems using nuclear power, and exactly none which have done it with “solar fuels”.  It’s obvious who the expensive and dangerous frauds are; the problem is that it’s almost taboo to mention it.

Get Published - Build a Following

The Energy Central Power Industry Network is based on one core idea - power industry professionals helping each other and advancing the industry by sharing and learning from each other.

If you have an experience or insight to share or have learned something from a conference or seminar, your peers and colleagues on Energy Central want to hear about it. It's also easy to share a link to an article you've liked or an industry resource that you think would be helpful.

                 Learn more about posting on Energy Central »