RPT-UPDATE 1-Sentiment toward nuclear power improving: study

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HOUSTON, March 17 (Reuters) - Consumers around the world, worried about reliable energy supplies and pollution, said their countries should use less oil, natural gas and coal to make electricity and use more nuclear and renewable power, according to a 20-country survey by Accenture.

In Accenture's ACN.N Multinational Nuclear Power Survey, 88 percent of the more than 10,500 respondents said reducing reliance on fossil-fueled power generation was "important" or "very important" to improve energy security and trim emissions of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas blamed for climate change.

Electricity from wind, solar and other renewable sources was seen as one way to pare the need for fossil-fueled electricity. More than a third of respondents said more power from nuclear plants will also be needed.

“U.S. and global aspirations for lower-carbon, or zero-carbon electricity, are unattainable without nuclear in the mix,” said Daniel Krueger, an Accenture managing director for the global generation and energy markets group.

New York-based Accenture, a global management consulting and technology firm, works with nuclear industry clients, primarily in information technology.

Nearly three-fourths of those surveyed said nuclear power will play an important role in meeting future electric demand, including 93 percent of Indians, 80 percent of Americans, dropping to 62 percent of Canadians and 51 percent of Germans.

In the United States, 73 percent of the respondents said it would be acceptable to build a new reactor within 100 miles of their home, but only 47 percent said construction of a new reactor within 25 miles would be acceptable.

Krueger said while U.S. consumers were most willing for new reactors to built at existing sites, opposition to nuclear power remained strong in densely populated Northeastern states.

Overall, men endorsed the use of more nuclear while women raised the most concern about nuclear safety issues, waste disposal and potential terrorism, according to the survey.

In many countries public sentiment toward nuclear power has softened over the past three years, Accenture said.

People surveyed in China and South Africa were the most supportive of adding nuclear capacity while, surprisingly, consumers in France, Japan and Germany were more negative.

In a warning to the industry, Krueger attributed the erosion in support on public reaction to recent nuclear plant operating problems in Japan and France.

“An incident anywhere in your country can quickly erode support for nuclear and a major incident anywhere in the world -- if not handled in a forthright manner -- could undermine the entire global industry,” Krueger said.

Editing by David Gregorio