When to Use a Real Options Analysis
Real options analysis captures the value of flexibility in hydropower design that other decision-making processes may not.
The academic journal Renewable Energy Focus has recently published one of our collaborative research articles. The article highlights valuation techniques at hydropower plants when risks of climate change and other uncertainties are high. Here is part of the abstract, with a link to more.
Development strategies on the African continent include significant hydropower investment to meet a growing energy demand. However, long-lived assets, such as hydro facilities, face climate risks, among others, that shorter-term investments may not. Various tools for quantifying these risks and offering decision-makers some guidelines for investment strategies, particularly under climate uncertainty, are increasingly used to evaluate broad policy choices and specific investment decisions. Given uncertainties such as climate change, and the wide range of decision-making levels, all available tools have a role, depending on the need of the decision-maker. However, not all yield the same result under all circumstances.
This paper reviews three methods of analysis for decision making under uncertainty: Benefit-Cost analysis under uncertainty (BCA), Robust Decision Making (RDM), and Real Options Analysis (ROA). The paper then illustrates each within a project, the Batoka Gorge Hydropower Facility. We find that within the context of Batoka, the three analyses point to similar design choices with one important exception: Real Options offers values for the flexibilities embedded in projects or suites of projects, whereas the others do not incorporate these valuations. Furthermore, we find that flexibility, especially when integrating multiple risks into the project, creates value in smaller designs, such that the NPV exceeds that of inflexible, though larger designs.
To read the full article, follow this link: https://authors.elsevier.com/a/1a8Ha6F2kzMSYY.
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Richard Swanson, Ph.D.
Asset valuation and project finance expert, specializing in financial and economic analysis of civil infrastructure assets.