Water resources planning under climate change: Assessing the robustness of real options for the Blue Nile

Journal Article (Journal Article)

This article presents a methodology for planning new water resources infrastructure investments and operating strategies in a world of climate change uncertainty. It combines a real options (e.g., options to defer, expand, contract, abandon, switch use, or otherwise alter a capital investment) approach with principles drawn from robust decision-making (RDM). RDM comprises a class of methods that are used to identify investment strategies that perform relatively well, compared to the alternatives, across a wide range of plausible future scenarios. Our proposed framework relies on a simulation model that includes linkages between climate change and system hydrology, combined with sensitivity analyses that explore how economic outcomes of investments in new dams vary with forecasts of changing runoff and other uncertainties. To demonstrate the framework, we consider the case of new multipurpose dams along the Blue Nile in Ethiopia. We model flexibility in design and operating decisions - the selection, sizing, and sequencing of new dams, and reservoir operating rules. Results show that there is no single investment plan that performs best across a range of plausible future runoff conditions. The decision-analytic framework is then used to identify dam configurations that are both robust to poor outcomes and sufficiently flexible to capture high upside benefits if favorable future climate and hydrological conditions should arise. The approach could be extended to explore design and operating features of development and adaptation projects other than dams. Key Points No planning alternative is likely to dominate across plausible future conditions We present a method for generating information for the selection of robust planning alternatives Downside and upside metrics can assist enhanced decision making © 2014. American Geophysical Union. All Rights Reserved.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Jeuland, M; Whittington, D

Published Date

  • January 1, 2014

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 50 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 2086 - 2107

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1944-7973

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0043-1397

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1002/2013WR013705

Citation Source

  • Scopus