Lady Barbara Judge: Nuclear Energy Has ‘a Place at the Table’ in the Middle East and Beyond

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As concern mounts over climate change and the future of fossil fuels, nuclear power has returned to the forefront of energy policies worldwide. In the United States, where no new nuclear plant has been built since the Three Mile Island accident in 1979, atomic energy occupies a prominent place in legislation introduced recently in Congress. India hopes nuclear will supply 25% of its electricity by 2050. China, meanwhile, is racing ahead: It has 11 operating commercial reactors, 20 more under construction and several others about to be built. Across the Middle East and North Africa, at least 13 nations are actively pursuing or seriously considering nuclear power: Iran, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Israel, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, Turkey, Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco. Cost, safety and proliferation continue to be significant issues, however.

Does a global revival of nuclear energy make sense? According to Lady Barbara Judge, chairman of the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority, it does for three reasons: energy security, energy independence and climate change. Judge, who was recently among a panel of experts at The Festival of Thinkers in Abu Dhabi, is on a mission to raise awareness of nuclear energy around the world, including the Middle East. Arabic Knowledge@Wharton spoke with her about what needs to happen for nuclear energy to really take off, and about how her own foray into the industry began.

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