Mumbai: Amidst opposition to nuclear power in the country, International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director General Yukiya Amano said nuclear energy is vital for India's growth.
"Nuclear power can help to improve energy security. For rapidly developing economy such as India, it (nuclear energy) can make a vitally important contribution to growth," Amano said while delivering the Indian Nuclear Society Silver Jubilee lecture in Mumbai on Tuesday.
Besides, nuclear power can also reduce the impact of volatile fossil fuel prices and mitigate the effects of climate change, he added. "Not only for developing countries, but even developed countries need electricity to maintain economic competitiveness and nuclear power will have an important contribution to make," he said.
Globally, nuclear power looks set to continue to grow steadily although slowly than we expected before the Fukushima Daiichi accident in March 2011, Amano said. There are 437 operating nuclear power reactors in the world today and recent projections by IAEA suggest that the number could increase by 80 or 90 in the next 20 years.
At the moment, there are 66 new reactors under construction and seven of them are in India. "With electricity becoming fundamental for growth of any country, IAEA expects the production of nuclear power to increase by 23-100 per cent by the next 20 years," he said.
The production can increase by 100 per cent in high scenario in which very rapid expansion of nuclear power plants will take place where countries give serious consideration to climate change. Other than India, China and Russia also have significant expansion plans.
Besides, a number of countries have taken the decision to introduce nuclear power including Bangladesh, Egypt, Jordan, Nigeria, Poland, Turkey and Vietnam. Also, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has started building a nuclear power plant, he added.
"I believe that other sources of energy such as renewable also have an important contribution to make. But they are not in the position to provide the amounts of reliable base-load electricity which a modern economy needs 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Nuclear power can do that," Amano said.
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