The growth of nuclear power in China and India over the next two decades will outpace other countries, a senior International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) official said yesterday.
"China has developed quite fast in the nuclear power industry in the past 20 years," said Yury Sokolov, IAEA's deputy director-general and head of the department of nuclear energy.
"In China, in India, you have very definite plans for increasing the nuclear capacity six to 10 times for 20 years, this is really fast growth.
"The growth of the world is not so fast."
Sokolov said he remained positive about the future of nuclear power.
"Now nuclear power exists in 30 countries," he said.
"And 30 to 40 other countries have expressed their willingness to explore nuclear power."
He made the remarks on the sidelines of an IAEA symposium on nuclear power plant management, which opened yesterday.
China started nuclear power operations in 1991, when Qinshan-I, a 300-megawatt (MW) presurized-water reactor unit, independently developed by China, plugged into the grid.
China has fast-tracked development of nuclear power in recent years with a target to take its nuclear power capacity from about 9,000 MW in 2007 to 40,000 MW by 2020, according to China's long-term development plan for the nuclear power industry.
The Indian Department of Atomic Energy also had plans to increase the country's installed nuclear power capacity, expected to reach 20,000 MW by 2020.
Some Chinese experts said nuclear power was the best choice for China to satisfy its thirst for clean power amid pressure to sustain economic growth.
"The needs for energy consumption as well as for environmental protection are both pressed," Zheng Mingguan, vice-president of Shanghai Nuclear Engineering Research and Design Institute, said.
"Nuclear power is the most suitable choice to meet both needs."
Sun Libin, a scholar with the Institute of Nuclear and New Energy Technology of Tsinghua University, said: "Other forms of new energy, such as wind power and solar power, carry energy density much lower than nuclear power, and are unable to meet the tremendous power demand in China".