The social acceptance of fusion: critically examining public perceptions of uranium-based fuel storage for nuclear fusion in Europe

Christopher R. Jones, Sophie Yardley, Sarah Medley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Downloads (Pure)

Abstract

The public acceptability of emerging industrial technologies can affect their chances of commercial success. In large, demographically diverse samples from the United Kingdom (N = 438) and Germany (N = 390), we show for the first time the stigmatizing impact that the proposed use of depleted uranium (DU) as a tritium fuel storage option for nuclear fusion has upon public attitudes towards nuclear fusion. Participants’ attitudes towards nuclear fusion in both cohorts were assessed at four time points within an online questionnaire-based survey: pre-information about nuclear fusion (Time 1); post-information about fusion (Time 2); pre-information about DU (Time 3); and post-information about DU (Time 4). Attitudes towards nuclear fusion were generally more positive in the UK; however, both the UK and German cohorts showed a similar ‘flip-flop’ pattern in opinions over time. Specifically, an initial improvement in attitudes (Time 1 – Time 2), which was taken as evidence of the value of delineating nuclear fusion from nuclear fission, was followed by a significant downturn (Time 2 – Time 3) upon the announcement that DU would be involved in fuel-storage. This downturn in attitudes was tied to participants’ initial negative cognitive and affective evaluations of DU. The stigmatizing impact was found to partially reverse (Time 3 – Time 4) following the provision of information about the nature and purpose of DU within fusion. The study findings have clear implications for public engagement and communication efforts relating to current and future nuclear fusion demonstration projects.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)192-203
JournalEnergy Research and Social Science
Volume52
Early online date8 Mar 2019
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2019

Keywords

  • Nuclear fusion
  • Public perception
  • Attitudes
  • Stigma
  • Depleted uranium

Fingerprint

Dive into the research topics of 'The social acceptance of fusion: critically examining public perceptions of uranium-based fuel storage for nuclear fusion in Europe'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this