“Nuclear energy sounded wonderful 40 years ago”
By Maria Lee, on 4 March 2014
Four UCL academics have recently published on ‘UK citizen views on Carbon Capture and Storage’ in Energy Policy.
Simon Lock, Melanie Smallman, Maria Lee (of the CLE) and Yvonne Rydin, ‘”Nuclear energy sounded wonderful 40 years ago”: UK citizen views on CCS’ (2014) 66 Energy Policy 428, http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0301421513011312
Around the world there is increasing interest from government and industry in the potential for Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) technologies to play a part in decarbonisation. This paper examines how people with little previous exposure to CCS technology, frame and discuss it, and how in the absence of information, ideas, notions, values and experiences shape opinion. We present data from a series of focus groups held with environmental activists, planning councillors, and adult and youth community group members in London in 2012. We found that views on CCS are shaped strongly by wider factors, particularly trade offs between different energy futures. Lay-critiques were similar to those put forward by environmental groups and were strongly framed by conceptions of nuclear power. We argue that although there is little public disquiet concerning this technology in private opinions were generally negative. This, and the use of nuclear power as a framing device, may present a challenge to policy-makers and industry committed to implementing CCS while promoting education as the main mechanism for public acceptance.