A recent survey by the European Commission titled “Attitudes of Europeans towards air quality” has found that seven out of ten Europeans prefer renewable energy over traditional alternatives. Less than ten percent of those surveyed expressed a preference for fossil fuels. However, 18% of Europeans still maintain that nuclear should be considered a priority energy source.
Renewable energies: Trailing behind, Romania and Bulgaria
The results by country show that acceptance and awareness of renewable energies like photovoltaic or wind power is highest in Portugal at 82%, followed closely by Germany, Austria, Denmark, and Spain (each 81%). A few have much lower regard for renewables, notably Romania (49%) and Bulgaria (45%), where less than half the survey participants recommended renewables as a priority. The Europe-wide average lies at 70%.
A center of interest which is drawing more and more attention is energy efficiency. The Europe-wide average for agreement that energy efficiency should receive a priority focus is at 28%. Here, Slovakia is the leader with 44%, and trailing the pack is Cyprus with only 18%.
Support for nuclear energy Europe-wide at 18%
Nuclear energy is supported above all by the Czech Republic. 44% of Czechs surveyed believe nuclear to be an energy source worth supporting, followed by Sweden with 33%. In Germany nuclear gained an approval rate of only 8%, with the lowest endorsements coming from Austria and Cyprus at 4% each. The overall European average is 18%.
Also of interest is that 33% of Poles name shale-gas as a priority. Estimations place Poland over the largest shale-gas reserves in Europe, and Poland is interested in stepping up extraction via the fiercely debated fracking technique. In all other European countries approval of this means of energy production lies under 11%, Italy, Sweden and Finland being the most opposed at 3%.
Conventional fossil fuel energy providers seem to no longer have a place within the European energy mindset. A union-wide approval average of 8%, with a maximum of 19% in Lithuania, demonstrates that not even one in ten Europeans would name conventional energy production as a priority. Especially low is the support from Sweden, Slovenia, Italy and Poland (4% each).
Men support nuclear energy more than women do
Socio-demographic analyses of the survey show that men are more likely to prefer nuclear power than women (23% vs. 13%). Among participants over 55, energy efficiency (24%) and renewable energies ( 65%) also find fewer supporters.
Education also plays a large role. Only 59% of those polled who ended their education at 15 or earlier indicate renewable energies as a focus, as opposed to 75% of those educated until age 20.
Sources: Europäische Kommission (Attitudes of Europeans towards air quality report)