In a context marked by the Covid-19 health crisis and the risks related to climate change which are placing a burden on our societies, Orano wanted to question the French on their knowledge and perceptions of this energy and its future as France's energy source of tomorrow.
The results of this survey, which was conducted in partnership with survey group BVA, further enrich the lessons learned from the first edition carried out in 2019 concerning the recent shift in the opinion and knowledge of French people regarding nuclear
energy and the nuclear industry.
For 50% of French people, nuclear power is an asset for the country. Two of the arguments cited by respondents in favor of this energy were already present in 2019: France's energy independence (53%) and the low cost of electricity (30%). French people also cite the positive role played by nuclear as a source of uninterrupted electricity generation (39%).
Furthermore, the share of French people who identify the nuclear industry as a handicap has fallen from 34% to 15%, showing that opposition to this energy source is eroding.
France's energy independence is more than ever before the most convincing argument for French people in favor of nuclear energy: it is cited by 53% of respondents is up 7 points compared to 2019. When questioned further on this topic, 42% of French people consider the generation of this energy on French territory to be the most important argument for the link between nuclear energy and France's energy independence, while 36% point to the fact that it is a sensitive sector in which it is better to retain expertise. It is also to be noted that the new item "Electricity generated without interruption" came in second position, showing the importance of the security of electricity supply for French people.
While a majority of French people (58%, a decrease of 11 points compared to 2019) still think that nuclear energy contributes to the production of greenhouse gases and to climate change, only 19% of them now say that this impact is significant (compared to 34% two years ago). This improvement demonstrates the effectiveness of the work done to educate players in the nuclear sector on this issue, which has to be continued.
At the same time, the share of French people who consider that coal, oil and gas produce less than CO2 than nuclear has been halved.
Another area of improvement was that of French people's knowledge on the role of nuclear energy: 64% of them (up 10 points compared to 2019) know that France's energy mix of tomorrow will consist of nuclear energy and renewables (compared to 21% who think that the future scenario will be based on renewables only – this figure was 26% in 2019). 59% of them (up 4 points) also believe that the use of nuclear energy in France is going to increase or remain stable in the future.
The production of non-recyclable remains the main concern (cited by 59% of French people) despite the increase in the share of French people aware of the possibility of recycling nuclear fuel (66%, up 5 points). However, the processing of nuclear waste is seen as less of a central challenge for future generations than the fight against climate change or the preservation of natural resources (30%, 53% and 36% respectively).
The nuclear industry is a sector of activity which is considered to create jobs by 27% of 18-24 year olds (20% for French people across all age groups). Similarly, the creation of jobs is cited by 28% of people in this age group as proof of its contribution to France's energy independence (22% for French people across all age groups).
Philippe Knoche, Chief Executive Officer of Orano, commented: "The results of this survey confirm the improvement in the perception of nuclear energy by our fellow citizens, as a continuous source of supply of low-carbon electricity contributing to the fight against climate change. We have to continue the work being done by the group and the sector as a whole to raise awareness more broadly of the importance of the role of nuclear in the energy transition".
The BVA survey for Orano was conducted via the internet from May 3 to 6, 2021 with a representative sample of the French population comprising 1,500 people aged 18 and over. The representativeness of the sample was guaranteed by the quota sampling method applied to the following variables: sex, age, profession of chief wage earner of household and of the person surveyed, region and category of agglomeration. The comparative data presented in this press release and in the survey refers to the results of an earlier survey conducted by BVA for Orano in April 2019, with a representative sample of 2,400 French people surveyed by telephone.