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UK population divided on nuclear power – but many see its potential in a low carbon future

16 March 2015


Research released today by the Institution of Engineering and Technology (IET) shows that two in five (43%) of the UK population would be willing to pay more for their electricity bills today in order to help reduce carbon emissions in the future. A smaller number (32%) supports increased investment from the UK government to build new nuclear power stations as part of a low carbon future.  Conversely, only 21% of those asked would oppose increased investment in nuclear

The research comes as the IET prepares to host its annual Clerk Maxwell lecture at the Royal Institution in London on 19 March at 6pm. The lecture will be given by energy expert Professor William Nuttall and will look at the role the new nuclear power stations could play in helping the UK achieve a truly low-carbon electricity system.

In his lecture, ‘Britain, Nuclear Energy and the Future’ Professor Nuttall will discuss the fundamental considerations underpinning the Government’s current energy policy – and consider the difficulties encountered by those seeking to develop new nuclear power stations in recent years.

In addition, the lecture will consider how UK energy policy has moved forward and evolved in two important areas: energy policy and technology policy.

Commenting on his lecture, Professor Nuttall said: “The IET research shows that while there is some public resistance and indeed much ambivalence to new nuclear build, on balance there is support for new state-backed investment in nuclear power. Given that government has indicated its enthusiasm for new nuclear build, and fought hard to reform energy policy to make such investment viable, it is perhaps surprising that in 2015 we still await a firm investment decision for any new nuclear power station.

“In my lecture I shall point to the attributes of nuclear power and suggest ways in which the technology can contribute to core policy goals. UK nuclear technology policy has progressed significantly in recent years and the country is arguably now in a position to recover some of its original ambition as the country that led the world into large-scale civil nuclear power in the first place. The UK nuclear renaissance remains imminent.”

Established in 1951, the Clerk Maxwell lecture pays homage to the Scottish physicist, James Clerk Maxwell. His ground-breaking calculations of electromagnetic waves provided the basis for Einstein’s work on relativity from which the relationship between energy, mass and velocity contributed to the theory underlying the development of nuclear energy.

To book your place at the Clerk Maxwell lecture visit: www.theiet.org/clerk-maxwell

Media enquiries to:

Hannah Kellett
External Communications Manager

Tel: +44 (0)1438 767336
Mob: +44 (0)7738 602426
Email: HKellett@theiet.org

Notes to editors:

  • The research, carried out by Ipsos Mori on behalf of the IET, polled 2,023 online GB adults aged 16-75.
  • The IET is one of the world’s largest engineering institutions with nearly 160,000 members in 127 countries. It is also the most multidisciplinary – to reflect the increasingly diverse nature of engineering in the 21st century. Energy, transport, manufacturing, information and communications, and the built environment: the IET covers them all.
  • The IET is working to engineer a better world by inspiring, informing and influencing our members, engineers and technicians, and all those who are touched by, or touch, the work of engineers.
  • We want to build the profile of engineering and change outdated perceptions about engineering in order to tackle the skills gap. This includes encouraging more women to become engineers and growing the number of engineering apprentices.