Investments in Power Generation Under Uncertainty – a MIP Specification and Large-Scale Application for EU

Article - August 6, 2017

Investments in power generation constitute a typical budget allocation problem in the context of multiple objectives, while all factors influencing investor’s decisions for power plants are subject to considerable uncertainties. The paper introduces a multi-objective stochastic model designed to optimize budget allocation decisions for power generation in the context of risk aversion taking into account several sources of uncertainty, especially with regard to volatility of fossil fuel and electricity prices, technological costs, and climate policy variability. Probability distributions for uncertain factors influencing investment decisions are directly derived from the stochastic global energy model PROMETHEUS and thus they take into account complex interactions between variables in the systemic context. In order to fully incorporate stochastic characteristics of the problem, the model is specified as an optimization problem in which the probability that an objective exceeds a given threshold is maximized (risk aversion) subject to a set of deterministic and probabilistic constraints.

The model is formulated as a mixed integer program providing complete flexibility on the joint distributions of rates of return of technologies competing for investments, as it can handle non-symmetric distributions and take automatically into account complex covariance patterns as emerging from comprehensive PROMETHEUS stochastic results. The analysis shows that risk is a crucial factor for power generation investments with investors not opting for technologies subject to uncertainty related to climate policies and fossil fuel prices. On the other hand, combination of options with negative covariance tends to benefit in the context of risk-hedging behavior.