Nuclear power is undergoing a revival in a number of countries of both developed and developing world, and is increasingly presented as a solution to the problems of climate change and energy security. Governments seeking to expand the use of nuclear power and find a solution to the problems of radioactive waste management have increasingly engaged in more participatory and deliberative mechanisms of planning and decision-making. This reflects a desire to avoid the repetition of past failures of 'technocratic' planning, to regain some of the lost public trust in the governance of science and technology, and the need to respond to international pressures towards more open and transparent decision-making. However, the shape and success of these deliberative mechanisms varies according to the country-specific context, including not only the differences in energy policies and nuclear technologies, but also factors such as public trust in government institutions, role of experts, and national policy style and culture.
Current research in the Sussex Energy Group seeks to analyse the evolution of the debates, institutions and decisions concerning nuclear power and nuclear waste management in Finland, France and the UK over the past decades, with particular attention to the various mechanisms through which legitimacy and credibility are constructed, and the role of deliberative institutions in policymaking. By examining the factors shaping the public acceptability of nuclear installations, public trust in governance of science and technology, and the success of deliberative mechanisms, the project seeks to provide policy-relevant insights into the viability of future nuclear projects under different national and local conditions.
Previous research and outputs:
Project summary - Governance of "nuclear revival" in Finland, France and the UK: a comparative analysis of the processes of argumentation and deliberative institutions (pdf, 96kb)
Sustainable Development Commission: The role of nuclear power in a low carbon economy .
Paper 4: the economics of nuclear power
Dr. Jim Watson and Dr. Alister Scott - New Nuclear Power in the UK: A Strategy for Energy Security?