The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has said at least 60 more nuclear power plants will come on line over the next 15 years. The fastest growth is expected in Asia, with India alone expected to register a ten-fold increase in nuclear generation by 2020 and China a six-fold rise.

“The current picture is one of rising expectations,” the Director-General, Mohamed El Baradei told the organisation’s board of governors meeting this week in Vienna.

The Agency’s Nuclear Technology Review – Update 2005 signals a more favourable outlook for nuclear power than was predicted five years ago by the IAEA and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) International Energy Agency.

Based on the most conservative assumption, the latest report on the subject forecasts around 430GWe of global nuclear capacity in 2020, up from 367GWe today, translating into just over 500 nuclear power plants worldwide by then.

This represents a slight rise in nuclear power’s share in the world electricity market, to 17% from 16%, reversing previous downward estimates. Worldwide, 441 nuclear plants are in operation and 27 are being built across 30 countries.

This month, ministers and senior experts from 30 countries are examining the future role of nuclear energy at a conference in Paris, 21-22 March, organised by the IAEA in cooperation with theOECD.