Public attitudes towards energy sources

Public attitudes towards energy sources vary drastically, but are extremely important as well. Public opinion is important since it is insufficient to simply produce electricity, the public must approve of its generation as well. This article examines public opinions towards various primary energy sources in Canada. This is closely related to the idea that people reject development close to where they live, see: not in my back yard syndrome.

Public opinion polling

These charts are compiled from public opinion poll data commissioned by the Canadian Nuclear Association.[1] [2] [3] [4] [5] [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] [11] All surveys were conducted by independent polling firms: Ipsos Reid was used up until 2010, while the most recent surveys were conducted by Innovative Research Group, Inc.

Opinions of Canadian citizens were collected through random telephone surveys. These ranged from 1000-2200 respondents depending on the specific poll in question. In order to improve accuracy in polls like these, the data are weighted by age, gender, and location so that estimations will reflect the true demographics of the Canadian population. After weighting these sample sizes, the results are considered accurate to within +/- 2.1%-3.1%, 19 times out of 20. The larger the size of a poll, the smaller margin of error it will have.

The survey question asked in the telephone interview has changed very little over the years. The version used up until May 2012 is as follows:

I am now going to read you a list of several ways to produce electricity. Please tell me whether you strongly support, somewhat support, somewhat oppose, or strongly oppose each way of producing electricity. How about...
Solar power? Wind power? Hydroelectric power? Natural gas? Nuclear power? Coal?

It is important to note that "neither support nor oppose" was not explicitly provided as a response option in these phone surveys. This method helps get more detailed information from respondents who might lean only slightly towards supporting or opposing a technology. Respondents who volunteered a neutral answer or declined to answer the question are counted collectively under the "neither" categories on these charts. This difference in survey methods can explain the larger proportion of neutral responses which is seen in other polls (e.g. by Abacus Data in 2011[12]).

Support for coal

Support for hydroelectric power

Support for natural gas

Support for nuclear power

See also Canadian support for nuclear power.

Support for solar power

Support for wind power

References

  1. Canadian Nuclear Association (2003, November). Canadian Attitudes Towards Nuclear Energy: Tracking Survey Results [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/CNAReportTrackingStudyNovember2003.pdf
  2. Canadian Nuclear Association (2005, November). Ontario and Canada Attitudes Towards Nuclear Energy: Tracking Survey Results [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/CNANovembertracking2005.pdf
  3. Canadian Nuclear Association (2006, April). Ontario and Canada Attitudes Towards Nuclear Energy: April 2006 Ontario Tracking and January 2006 National Tracking [Online]. Available:http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/CNA_Jan_and_April_Tracking2006.pdf
  4. Canadian Nuclear Association (2007, February). Report: Canadian Views on Nuclear Energy: Focus on the Environment [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/CNAFeb07Presentation.pdf
  5. Canadian Nuclear Association (2008, February). Canadian Views on Nuclear Energy: Focus on Energy Supply [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/CNA_Jan08.pdf
  6. Canadian Nuclear Association (2008, September). Canadian Views on Nuclear Energy [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/CNA_Sept08.pdf
  7. Canadian Nuclear Association (2009, February). Canadian Views on Nuclear Energy [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/CNA-March09.pdf
  8. Canadian Nuclear Association (2009, September). Canadian Views on Nuclear Energy [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/CNA_Sept09.pdf
  9. Canadian Nuclear Association (2010, April). Canadian Views on Nuclear Energy [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/Tracking-Report-April2010.pdf
  10. Canadian Nuclear Association (2011, June). Canadian Nuclear Attitude Survey [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/Polling_Deck_2011.pdf
  11. Canadian Nuclear Association (2012, June). 2012 Public Opinion Research – National Nuclear Attitude Survey [Online]. Available: http://www.cna.ca/wp-content/uploads/2012NuclearAttitudeReport.pdf
  12. Abacus Data (2011, April). Canadian Public Opinion on Nuclear Power [Online]. Available: http://abacusdata.ca/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/Nuclear-Power-April-1.pdf

Authors and Editors

Jordan Hanania, James Jenden, Ellen Lloyd, Kailyn Stenhouse, Jason Donev