Nuclear energy is one of the most controversial forms of alternative energy, and the least
understood. Consumers can confuse a fear of nuclear weapons with nuclear energy, and naysayers
cite plant explosions or the possibility of a terror attack employing misused nuclear energy materials.
Yet advancements in safety measures, regulation and technology have made nuclear energy safer
Is the lack of public understanding of nuclear energy preventing western governments from
investing more? What can encourage them, and their fearful constituents, to embrace different
sources of energy? With Russia and China taking control of the market, is there a fear that we are
letting a source of green energy be taken over by authoritarian global powers? What do we risk by
being reliant on these countries for energy? Is it just too expensive? What is the role for nuclear in
the larger ecosystem of low-carbon emitting sources of energy?
Leslie Hook – Environment and Clean Energy Correspondent, the Financial Times, based in London. An award-winning journalist, she has reported from more than a dozen countries across Asia and Europe, and currently leads the FT’s coverage of the global climate crisis. Her previous postings with the FT include San Francisco correspondent and Beijing correspondent, covering resources and the environment. Prior to joining the FT in 2010, she was at the Wall Street Journal and the Far Eastern Economic Review in Hong Kong. Leslie was also a fellow at the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University during 2013-2014.
On the panel:
Dr Sama Bilbao y León – Director General of World Nuclear Association. Sama has more than 20 years of experience in nuclear engineering and energy policy. Sama has a very diverse professional experience having worked in the nuclear industry (Nuclear Safety Analysis Engineer, Dominion Energy, USA), in academia (Director of Nuclear Engineering Programs and Associate Professor at the Department of Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU), USA) and in international organisations (Head of the Division of Nuclear Technology Development and Economics at the OECD Nuclear Energy Agency (NEA), Head of the Technical Secretariat for the Generation IV International Forum (GIF), Head of Water Cooled Reactors Technology Development Unit, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)). Sama, who is originally from Spain, holds a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering and a master’s degree in Energy Technologies from the Polytechnic University of Madrid; a master’s degree and a PhD in Nuclear Engineering and Engineering Physics from the University of Wisconsin – Madison; and an MBA from Averett University. Sama is one of the seven founders of the North American Young Generation in Nuclear (NA-YGN).
Zion Lights – science communicator known for her environmental advocacy work and the Founder of the evidence-based climate activism group Emergency Reactor. She is author of The Ultimate Guide to Green Parenting, and a keen astronomer who has given a TED talk on stargazing. She is the former Editor of The Hourglass, Extinction Rebellion’s print newspaper.
Dr Douglas Parr – Chief Scientist and Policy Director at Greenpeace UK. He has specialised in climate change policy across power, heat and transport sectors for many years, and also monitoring issues such as bioenergy, agriculture and land use. He has previously worked on a number of issues including chemicals policy, green refrigeration, waste and marine conservation. He obtained a D.Phil in Atmospheric Chemistry from Oxford University in 1991.
Dr Nina Skorupska – Chief Executive of the Association for Renewable Energy and Clean Technology (REA). Prior to joining the REA in 2013, Nina worked for 20 years for the RWE Group (and UK predecessors: National Power, Npower etc.) across fuel engineering and R&D, power station operations (where she was Npower’s first female power station manager) and trading. Her last RWE role was CTO, Essent (RWE’s Dutch business). She is a Board member of Transport for London (TfL), REAL (REA subsidiary), and more recently Royal BAM Group NV. She also advises Carbon Trust, National Grid ESO and Energy Research Accelerator (ERA) and others. She is a Fellow of the Energy Institute.