Nuclear poll irony

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An opinion poll designed primarily to test German views on nuclear power has exposed enormous enthusiasm for renewable energy. Over 2000 people from a cross section of the population were invited to express their opinions on the ideal energy supply for Germany in the next two to three decades. No less than 63% said solar energy should be a mainstay of energy supply, 52% said the same for wind and 49% for hydro. All other energies scored well under 50%, with just 26% favouring nuclear power and 19% electing coal.

The survey, carried out by the Allensbach Institute, also revealed that the credibility of renewables has improved over the past five or six years. In 1988, most people wanted renewable energies in their ideal energy mix, but were often sceptical about the idea in practice. The more recent survey, carried out in February, revealed that 62% of the population think solar will actually make a significant contribution to Germany's energy mix in the future compared with 51% in 1988. For hydro the percentage rose from 43% to 55%. The wind sector, however, has made the most dramatic stride in convincing the public it represents a serious energy option. As many as 54% believe wind can make a significant contribution to future energy supply compared with just 29% in 1988.

Although a majority of the general public has faith in the future of renewables, a large number still believe they must hedge their bets with traditional energies. While only 26% of the population actually want nuclear as part of their ideal energy mix, 54% agreed that nuclear will provide a mainstay of energy supply in the next 20-30 years. The story is similar for coal and gas. Only 36% of the public want gas and 19% want coal to play a major part in future energy supply, but 63% still expect gas to be around for the next 20-30 years, while 41% believe the same for coal.

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