Public engagement on nuclear power: it's not (just) about the science

Tuesday 19 March 2019 17:00 - 18:00 (followed by a networking reception)
Venue: Poynting Small Lecture Theatre, Poynting Building (R13 on campus map - PDF)

The Birmingham Energy Institute (BEI) is delighted to welcome Malcolm Grimston to the University of Birmingham. Malcolm, an advocate of nuclear power, a scientific author, and a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Energy Policy and Technology at Imperial College London, will discuss public engagement on nuclear power.

In his talk, Malcolm will ask why is the safest source of power, which we have yet developed, regarded by a significant number of people as being unacceptably dangerous? The response of the nuclear industry and its supporters tends to be to bewail that the public is ‘irrational’ and/or ‘ignorant’. However, it can be argued that actually, given the activities and messages that the nuclear industry and its regulators promote, the public’s response is perfectly rational and it is the industry which is less so. This talk will look at some examples and suggest alternatives.


Malcolm was educated at Scarborough College and Magdalene College in Cambridge and graduated in 1979, having read Natural Sciences and specialised in psychology.  He worked as a chemistry teacher before joining the UK Atomic Energy Authority in 1987. In 1995 he joined Imperial College as a Senior Research Fellow, where he retains visiting status, and from 1999-2002 he was a Senior Research Fellow at Chatham House. He is a regular media contributor on energy and nuclear matters, notably during the 2011 crisis at Fukushima. Among his publications are two books co-written with the late Peter Beck: Double or Quits – the global future of civil nuclear energy and Civil nuclear energy – fuel of the future or relic of the past?  Major papers include Electricity – social service or market commodity (2010); Have we been here before – nuclear power after Fukushima (2012); The full costs of electricity (2014); The siting of nuclear power installations (2014). From 2007 to 2011 he was part of a consortium carrying out a government-funded project on sustainable nuclear energy. His latest book, Paralysis at the Heart of Energy Decision-Making, was published in September 2016 (available from

Since 1994 he has been an elected Councillor (local government) in Wandsworth, southwest London, where he has at various times held executive responsibility for environment, education and housing. In 2017 he published West Hill and Wimbledon Park Side – Story of a Council Ward.

Complimentary alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks will be served at the drinks reception following the event. Alcoholic drinks will be only be served to those who are aged 18 or over.




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