Events & Media


A Sustainable Technology Seminar Series:

Policy/Economic Analysis of
Sustainable Chemical/Material Technologies

"Decision Frameworks and the Investment in R&D: Integrating elicitation data, integrated assessment models, and decision insights"

Erin Baker
Associate Professor
University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Monday, Jan. 12, 2015
11:30 - 12:30
Bren Hall 1424

See the complete list of speakers in this series, with brief biographies.

The economic practicality of paths towards a sustainable future depends crucially on the future costs and performance of low-carbon energy technologies. In this talk, I will discuss results that have come out of The Elicitation and Modeling Project (TEaM), a project designed to inform decision making on public R&D investments into energy technology. We standardize, compare, and aggregate the results from three large expert elicitation studies covering five key technologies: electricity from biomass, liquid biofuels, carbon capture and storage, nuclear power, and solar photovoltaics. The results are run through a large-scale energy-economic model in order to gain insights about the interactions between the technologies and the economy. Using this information, we investigate a set of decision frameworks aimed at choosing an energy technology R&D portfolio. We show that both parts of the equation are important – the prospects for technological advancement and the interactions of the technologies in and with the economy. We find that investment in energy technology R&D is important even in the absence of climate policy. We illustrate the value of considering dynamic two-stage sequential decision models under uncertainty for identifying alternatives with option value. Finally, we consider two frameworks that incorporate ambiguity aversion. We suggest that these results may be best used to guide future research aimed at improving the set of elicitation data.

Erin Baker is an associate professor of industrial and mechanical engineering at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her research topics include the application of operations research methods to environmental and energy economics and policy, how uncertainty impacts global climate change policy in a strategic environment, the economics of distributed generation, and the interplay between energy and development in Africa. She earned her PhD and MS in Engineering Economic Systems & Operations Research from Stanford University and her BA in Applied Mathematics from UC Berkeley.


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