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Value-Creating Investment Strategies to Manage Risk From Structural Market Uncertainties: Switching and Compound Options in (V)HTR Technologies

[+] Author Affiliations
Ulrike Läuferts

Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG), Petten; Delft University of Technology, Delft, The Netherlands

Charlotte Halbe

Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG), Petten; Tilburg University, Tilburg, The Netherlands

Aliki van Heek

Nuclear Research and Consultancy Group (NRG), Petten, The Netherlands

Paper No. HTR2008-58157, pp. 275-285; 11 pages
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology
  • Fourth International Topical Meeting on High Temperature Reactor Technology, Volume 2
  • Washington, DC, USA, September 28–October 1, 2008
  • Conference Sponsors: ASME
  • ISBN: 978-0-7918-4855-5 | eISBN: 978-0-7918-3834-1
  • Copyright © 2008 by ASME


To measure the value of a technology investment under uncertainty with standard techniques like net present value (NPV) or return on investment (ROI) will often uncover the difficulty to present convincing business case. Projected cash flows are inefficient or the discount rate chosen to compensate for the risk is so high, that it is disagreeable to the investor’s requirements. Decision making and feasibility studies have to look beyond traditional analysis to reveal the strategic value of a technology investment. Here, a Real Option Analysis (ROA) offers a powerful alternative to standard discounted cash-flow (DCF) methodology by risk-adjusting the cash flow along the decision path rather than risk adjusting the discount rate. Within the GEN IV initiative attention is brought not only towards better sustainability, but also to broader industrial application and improved financing. Especially the HTR design is full of strategic optionalities: The high temperature output facilitates penetration into other non-electricity energy markets like industrial process heat applications and the hydrogen market. The flexibility to switch output in markets with multi-source uncertainties reduces downside risk and creates an additional value of over 50% with regard to the Net Present Value without flexibility. The supplement value of deploying a modular (V)HTR design adds over 100% to the project value using real option evaluation tools. Focus of this paper was to quantify the strategic value that comes along a) with the modular design; a design that offers managerial flexibility adapting a step-by-step investment strategy to the actual market demand and b) with the option to switch between two modes of operation, namely electricity and hydrogen production. We will demonstrate that the effect of uncertain electricity prices can be dampened down with a modular HTR design. By using a real option approach, we view the project as a series of compound options — each option depending on the exercise of those that preceded it. At each end of the design phase, the viability will be reviewed conditional on the operating spread at each time step. We quantify the value of being able to wait with the investment into a next block until market conditions are favourable and to be able to abandon one block if market conditions are disapproving. To derive the intrinsic value of this multi block HTR design, it will be compared with a reference investment of a full commitment light water reactor without any managerial flexibility. In another case, we raise the question to what extent product output diversification is a suitable strategy to cope with long term market uncertainty in electricity price. What is the value of a multi-potent technology that is able to produce output for energy markets others than the electricity market? To investigate this, we concentrate on The Netherlands, a country with an intense industrial demand in electricity and hydrogen.

Copyright © 2008 by ASME



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