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Nuclear Power: a Hedge against Uncertain Gas and Carbon Prices?


  • Roques, F.A.
  • Nuttall, W.J.
  • Newbery, D.M.
  • de Neufville, R.


High fossil fuel prices have rekindled interest in nuclear power. This paper identifies specific nuclear characteristics making it unattractive to merchant generators in liberalised electricity markets, and argues that non-fossil fuel technologies have an overlooked ‘option value’ given fuel and carbon price uncertainty. Stochastic optimisation estimates the company option value of keeping open the choice between nuclear and gas technologies. This option value decreases sharply as the correlation between electricity, gas, and carbon prices rises, casting doubt on whether private investors’ fuel-mix diversification incentives in electricity markets are aligned with the social value of a diverse fuel-mix.

Suggested Citation

  • Roques, F.A. & Nuttall, W.J. & Newbery, D.M. & de Neufville, R., 2005. "Nuclear Power: a Hedge against Uncertain Gas and Carbon Prices?," Cambridge Working Papers in Economics 0555, Faculty of Economics, University of Cambridge.
  • Handle: RePEc:cam:camdae:0555
    Note: IO, EPRG

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Frayer, Julia & Uludere, Nazli Z., 2001. "What Is It Worth? Application of Real Options Theory to the Valuation of Generation Assets," The Electricity Journal, Elsevier, vol. 14(8), pages 40-51, October.
    2. Pindyck, Robert S., 1993. "Investments of uncertain cost," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 34(1), pages 53-76, August.
    3. Awerbuch, Shimon & Sauter, Raphael, 2006. "Exploiting the oil-GDP effect to support renewables deployment," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 34(17), pages 2805-2819, November.
    4. Bar-Ilan, Avner & Strange, William C, 1996. "Investment Lags," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 86(3), pages 610-622, June.
    5. Gollier, Christian & Proult, David & Thais, Francoise & Walgenwitz, Gilles, 2005. "Choice of nuclear power investments under price uncertainty: Valuing modularity," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 27(4), pages 667-685, July.
    6. Murto, Pauli & Nese, Gjermund, 2002. "Input price risk and optimal timing of energy investment: choice between fossil- and biofuels," Working Papers in Economics 15/02, University of Bergen, Department of Economics.
    7. Cox, John C. & Ross, Stephen A. & Rubinstein, Mark, 1979. "Option pricing: A simplified approach," Journal of Financial Economics, Elsevier, vol. 7(3), pages 229-263, September.
    8. Li, Ying & Flynn, Peter C., 2004. "Deregulated power prices: comparison of volatility," Energy Policy, Elsevier, vol. 32(14), pages 1591-1601, September.
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    More about this item


    Nuclear economics; stochastic optimisation; fuel-mix; diversification.;

    JEL classification:

    • C15 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Econometric and Statistical Methods and Methodology: General - - - Statistical Simulation Methods: General
    • C61 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Mathematical Methods; Programming Models; Mathematical and Simulation Modeling - - - Optimization Techniques; Programming Models; Dynamic Analysis
    • L52 - Industrial Organization - - Regulation and Industrial Policy - - - Industrial Policy; Sectoral Planning Methods
    • L94 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Transportation and Utilities - - - Electric Utilities

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