The poll found that 60 percent of those questioned were in favour of Germany generating its energy from only non-nuclear sources – even if this meant personal sacrifices.
Polling company Emnid was commissioned by the Bild am Sonntag to conduct the survey, which questioned 501 people.
Of those, 30 percent said they wanted an immediate exit from nuclear energy while 27 percent said they would accept it for another five years. A further 20 percent said another ten years of nuclear energy was acceptable and necessary – as planned by the Social Democrat-Green coalition.
Only 17 percent of those asked said they were in favour of nuclear power being included in Germany's energy policy until 2030 or longer.
Such opinions benefit the political fortunes of the Green Party, said Klaus Schöppner, head of Emnid. “After the atomic catastrophe in Japan, people are very emotional. In this situation, the Greens can only win sympathy,” he said.
And the results showed that 27 percent of those asked favoured the Green Party over all others, while 54 percent wanted to see the Greens play a bigger role in the future than currently. This latter view was shared by 36 percent of Christian Democrat supporters.
Those in favour of ditching nuclear energy have the churches on their side too, it emerged on Sunday, when the Catholic and Protestant representatives on the Ethics Commission on Atomic Energy expressed their views.
Munich Archbishop Cardinal Reinhard Marx, who represents the Catholic Church on the commission, told Sunday's Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung that he felt a technology that had incalculable consequences for entire generations could not be trusted.
And Ulrich Fischer, Baden state bishop of the Evangelical Church, warned in the Mannheimer Morgen newspaper on Saturday, of a "foul compromise" should domestic nuclear power stations be closed but nuclear-generated energy be imported.
He said Germany should proceed with an exit strategy as fast as possible – under the condition that social life continues with clear energy saving measures.
“We are dealing with goods which we cannot leave to the market,” said Marx, adding that financial help for the poor should be considered if a new mixture of energy, including renewable sources, increased prices.
The Ethics Commission on the Future of Nuclear Energy meets on Monday for the first time and includes a range of people from politics, business, society and the churches. They have been charged by Chancellor Angela Merkel to draw up conditions under which the continued use of nuclear power might continue in Germany in the face of the disaster in Japan.