* Fukushima expected to slow, not stop, nuclear growth
* IAEA says 29 countries considering nuclear power
* Number of reactors under construction up since 2005
VIENNA, Aug 16 Almost 30 countries are
considering or planning to introduce nuclear energy as interest
remains strong despite last year's Fukushima accident, the
United Nations' atomic agency said.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), in a report
posted on its website on Thursday, said the reactor meltdowns in
Japan were expected to slow the growth of nuclear power in the
world, but not reverse it.
"Among countries introducing nuclear power, interest remains
high," the report said.
"While the Fukushima Daiichi accident caused some countries
to change their positions and some to take a 'wait and see'
approach, interest continued among countries considering or
planning for nuclear power introduction," it said.
The Vienna-based U.N. agency forecast that global nuclear
power capacity would grow by 35 to 100 percent by 2030, with the
biggest increase in the Far East - a prediction in line with
figures it published previously.
Sixty-two reactors are under construction, in addition to
the 435 units now in operation. While this is down from a peak
of 233 units that were being built in 1979, it is still a rise
from figures of 30 to 40 from 1995 to 2005.
The Fukushima nuclear crisis, triggered by a deadly
earthquake and tsunami on March 11 last year, raised a question
mark over whether atomic energy is safe.
Germany and some European countries decided to move away
from nuclear power and increase renewable energy generation
instead. But countries such as China and India are expected to
press ahead with nuclear plans to help meet their fast-growing
demand for power.
The IAEA said factors such as volatile fossil fuel prices
and environmental issues, which have driven the increased
interest in nuclear power since 2005, have not changed.
Countries such as the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Belarus,
Bangladesh and Vietnam have taken concrete steps toward
introducing nuclear power, including after Fukushima, it added.
Of the 29 countries now considering or planning for nuclear
power, most are from Asia and Africa. In 2010, the group of
potential nuclear newcomers numbered 34, which was seven more
than in 2008, the IAEA report showed.
(Reporting by Fredrik Dahl, editing by Jane Baird)