New Zealanders may be gradually warming to nuclear power, with a survey revealing that nearly one in five respondents believe it is a viable energy source.
Nineteen per cent of 3546 people polled in an Internet survey by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development said nuclear power was the best electricity option for New Zealand in the next 10 years.
However, wind power topped the poll as the preferred source of electricity generation, with 77 per cent.
The council's chief executive, Peter Neilson, said the popularity of the nuclear option was surprising and he believed it was because people were searching for solutions to climate change. "If you had asked that question 10 years ago, I'd have been surprised if you had more than 3 to 4 per cent," he said.
The council is a business advocacy group which lobbies on sustainable development issues and has 71 member companies, including BP Oil, Mighty River Power, Resene and The Warehouse.
The survey was conducted over six weeks in February and March.
Greenpeace climate campaigner Simon Boxer said New Zealand would be scoring an "own goal" if it went down the nuclear route. Uranium resources were predicted to expire in 60 years, meaning it was one of the least sustainable power options available.
Mr Boxer was pleased to see wind-power generation feature so highly because it was one of the most environmentally friendly energy sources.
"New Zealand has the best wind resources in the world. All the energy produced in building [wind farms] is repaid from operation within the first three months."
Wind power figured as a popular option in the Wellington region, with more than 75 per cent of respondents in Wellington, Porirua and Hutt cities picking it as their preferred option.
Greater Wellington regional council chairwoman Fran Wilde said the region was "blessed" with a number of renewable energy options and a project was under way to establish a long-term approach to sustainable energy.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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