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Assessing public attitudes to nuclear fusion energy

Part of Today in the Lab - Tomorrow in Energy?

Today in the Lab – Tomorrow in Energy? shines a spotlight on research projects under development in the Technology Collaboration Programmes (TCPs). Learn more about the initiative, read the launch commentary, or explore the TCPs.


What is the aim of this project?

While commercialising nuclear fusion is a scientific and technological challenge, many other factors that will ultimately affect fusion’s success. Economic, safety, political and social conditions will all play a role on the road to deployment. This project examines public attitudes to fusion energy, and looks at public acceptance as a viable contribution to a sustainable energy future.

How could this technology be explained to a high school student?

To understand socio-economic influences on the development of fusion power, and build a social consensus in support of it, we need to examine how fusion power is viewed by the public and the media.  An online survey of people in European countries was designed to investigate public knowledge and acceptance of fusion technology. The survey was carried out by the Social Economics Studies team of EUROfusion, a consortium of national fusion research institutes.

What is the value of this project for society?

  • improves insight into the public understanding of fusion technology
  • helps to develop communication strategies for fusion technology
  • contributes to a more informed public debate about fusion energy

At what stage of development is this project?

The project began in early 2018 and was completed in mid-2020.  Future research will aim to provide the evidence needed to examine the trends in public acceptance of fusion energy. The outcomes of these studies will be used to support and improve the foresight activities of the Social Economic Studies team.

What government policies could bring this from the lab to the market?

  • increasing support for public education and awareness of fusion energy
  • supporting further research and analysis, including the influence of popular media on public opinion.

Example of the DEMO Reactor overview from K. Kim, et al., Conceptual design study of the K-DEMO magnet system, Fusion Eng. Des. 96 (2015) 281–285


Partners

  • EUROfusion
  • International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER)

Funders

  • European Commission
  • ITER
  • Working groups in Australia, Japan, Korea and the United States. 

About the Technology Collaboration Programme on Environmental, Safety and Economic Aspects of Fusion Power (ESEFP TCP)

The ESEFP TCP provides a platform for scientists and engineers to exchange information and enhance international collaboration and co-ordination to bridge the scientific and technical gaps between ITER and DEMO, a proposed nuclear fusion power station intended to build upon the ITER reactor. The programme also supports governmental fusion policies and raises public awareness of fusion energy developments and potential.

Contact: hwkim@nfri.re.kr