Today Manmohan Singh, India's prime minister, signaled a huge push in nuclear power over the coming decades, using an untested technology based on nuclear waste and the radioactive element thorium.
Manmohan Singh announced that 470,000MW of energy could come from Indian nuclear power stations by 2050 — more than 100 times the current output from India's current 17 reactors.
"This will sharply reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and will be a major contribution to global efforts to combat climate change," he said, adding that Asia was now seeing a huge spurt in nuclear plant building. The Indian plan, which relies on untested technology, was criticized by anti-nuclear campaigners as "a nightmare disguised as a dream".
The prime minister said a breakthrough deal with the US, sanctioned by the international community, had opened the door for the country to "think big" and meet the demands of its billion-strong population, guardian.co.uk reports.
It was also reported, the BBC's Chris Morris in Delhi says India's nuclear plan is only a long-term vision.
Over the next decade the contribution of nuclear energy is expected to rise from just 3% to 6% of the country's total needs.
Coal still accounts for more than 50% of India's energy use - which is why Mr Singh urged India to think big about nuclear energy, our correspondent says.
India urgently needs a huge increase in power production, as hundreds of millions of its people are not even connected to the national grid.
The country is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions and has been under pressure from developed countries to cap carbon emissions, BBC News reports.
News agencies also report, India desperately needed nuclear energy to overcome power shortage and boost economic growth, because the conventional energy sources like coal and hydel-power potential were fast depleting, said the country's Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee on Tuesday.
Speaking in New Delhi at the International Conference on Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy, Mukherjee said that nuclear energy was "clean and self-alternating" compared to fossil fuel.
"Our requirements of energy will only be met by considering nuclear and non-conventional resources. Quality power is essential requirement (for growth)...Our conventional sources are not at all adequate to achieve the desired energy (output) in terms of electricity generation," he said, TwoCircles.net reports.
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