In a commentary posted online Dr Birol said policymakers need to design markets that reward different sources for their contributions to electricity security, which can enable them to establish viable business models.
His comments echo those of the nuclear energy industry, which says nuclear is a low-carbon generation source and should be treated as such in legislation.
In Europe the Brussels-based nuclear industry group Foratom has called on the EU to support the nuclear sector’s important role within the bloc’s economy.
The group’s director-general Yves Desbazeille told NucNet recently that the nuclear industry needs to be considered a low-carbon energy source in the EU’s industrial strategy and subsequent policy proposals as the bloc seeks to find ways to reach zero emissions by 2050.
In the US the nuclear industry has long argued that electricity markets should be reformed to recognise the ability of traditional baseload generation with onsite fuel supplies – including nuclear power plants – to provide grid resiliency.
Dr Birol said the huge disruption caused by the coronavirus crisis has highlighted how much modern societies rely on electricity. He noted that it is critical for operating the ventilators and other medical equipment in the hospitals treating the soaring numbers of sick people.
“These services shouldn’t be taken for granted,” he said. “In Africa, hundreds of millions of people live without any access to electricity, making them far more vulnerable to disease and other dangers.”