Brookings: Human Resources for Nuclear Energy in Middle East

Today, the Energy Security Initiative from the Brookings Institution released a new report that assesses the capacity of Middle East nations to run competent, safe and sustainable nuclear energy programs. The report specifically focuses on human resource development in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Jordan, and Turkey, each of which have unique economic, political, and social challenges—as well as opportunities.

The Middle East holds great potential for joining the global nuclear energy market, and  made strides in this direction prior to the accident at Fukushima. The United Arab Emirates set forth a strategy for peaceful nuclear power in 2008 and purchase of four nuclear power reactors in 2009, all of which are projected to be operational by 2020. Similarly, Jordan plan to have at least one reactor connected to the grid by 2020, and Turkey plans to have four reactors live by this time.

The benefits to introducing civil nuclear power to these countries, according to the new report, include:

  • Economic growth
  • Cost concerns over fossil fuel-based power
  • Environmental concerns over carbon emissions

But the primary challenges to developing an infrastructure and the human resources needed for a capable nuclear energy system vary by country. The United Arab Emirates will need to grow its domestic workforce while maintaining strong quality control in its educational programs. Jordan has fewer financial resources than its regional competitors to compensate new nuclear engineers. Turkey must build greater expertise to become an “intelligent customer” of a completely new Russian design and Russian operator.

According to Brookings, a human resource development plan that stresses quality control and broad stakeholder engagement must be a central part of any nuclear energy strategy.

>>Read the full report.

>>Read more on Turkey’s plans to develop a nuclear energy program.