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Energy intensive infrastructure investments with retrofits in continuous time : effects of uncertainty on energy use and carbon emissions

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  • Framstad, Nils Christian
  • Strand, Jon

Abstract

Energy-intensive infrastructure may tie up fossil energy use and carbon emissions for a long time after investments, making the structure of such investments crucial for society. Much or most of the resulting carbon emissions can often be eliminated later, through a costly retrofit. This paper studies the simultaneous decision to invest in such infrastructure, and retrofit it later, in a model where future climate damages are uncertain and follow a geometric Brownian motion process with positive drift. It shows that greater uncertainty about climate cost (for given unconditional expected costs) then delays the retrofit decision by increasing the option value of waiting to invest. Higher energy intensity is also chosen for the initial infrastructure when uncertainty is greater. These decisions are efficient given that energy and carbon prices facing the decision maker are (globally) correct, but inefficient when they are lower, which is more typical. Greater uncertainty about future climate costs will then further increase lifetime carbon emissions from the infrastructure, related both to initial investments, and to too infrequent retrofits when this emissions level is already too high. An initially excessive climate gas emissions level is then likely to be worsened when volatility increases.

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Bibliographic Info

Paper provided by The World Bank in its series Policy Research Working Paper Series with number 6430.

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Date of creation: 01 Apr 2013
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Handle: RePEc:wbk:wbrwps:6430

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Keywords: Climate Change Mitigation and Green House Gases; Climate Change Economics; Transport Economics Policy&Planning; Energy Production and Transportation; Environmental Economics&Policies;

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  1. Pindyck, Robert S., 2000. "Irreversibilities and the timing of environmental policy," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 22(3), pages 233-259, July.
  2. Pindyck, Robert S., 2002. "Optimal timing problems in environmental economics," Journal of Economic Dynamics and Control, Elsevier, vol. 26(9-10), pages 1677-1697, August.
  3. Vogt-Schilb, Adrien & Meunier, Guy & Hallegatte, Stephane, 2012. "How inertia and limited potentials affect the timing of sectoral abatements in optimal climate policy," Policy Research Working Paper Series 6154, The World Bank.
  4. Balikcioglu, Metin & Fackler, Paul L. & Pindyck, Robert S., 2011. "Solving optimal timing problems in environmental economics," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 761-768, September.
  5. Strand, Jon & Miller, Sebastian & Siddiqui, Sauleh, 2011. "Infrastructure investments under uncertainty with the possibility of retrofit : theory and simulations," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5516, The World Bank.
  6. Anas, Alex & Timilsina, Govinda R., 2009. "Lock-in effects of road expansion on CO2 emissions : results from a core-periphery model of Beijing," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5017, The World Bank.
  7. Strand, Jon & Miller, Sebastian, 2010. "Climate cost uncertainty, retrofit cost uncertainty, and infrastructure closedown : a framework for analysis," Policy Research Working Paper Series 5208, The World Bank.
  8. Framstad, N.C., 2011. "A remark on R.S. Pindyck: "Irreversibilities and the timing of environmental policy"," Resource and Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 33(3), pages 756-760, September.
  9. Framstad, Nils Chr., 2013. "When can environmental profile and emissions reductions be optimized independently of the pollutant level?," Memorandum 12/2013, Oslo University, Department of Economics.
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Cited by:
  1. Strand, Jon, 2014. "Implications of a lowered damage trajectory for mitigation in a continuous-time stochastic model," Energy Economics, Elsevier, vol. 42(C), pages 43-49.
  2. Framstad, Nils Chr., 2013. "When can environmental profile and emissions reductions be optimized independently of the pollutant level?," Memorandum 12/2013, Oslo University, Department of Economics.

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