Identifying low-carbon energy R&D portfolios that are robust when models and experts disagree

Elsevier, Joule, Volume 7, 18 October 2023
Kanyako F., Baker E., Anthoff D.

Crafting energy policy in the face of climate change is daunting due to disagreement over technological uncertainty and societal consequences of climate change. We present an approach accounting for structural and parameter uncertainty. We provide proof of concept for designing energy R&D portfolios, accounting for uncertainty and disagreement around technological change and climate impact. We synthesize conflicting beliefs by combining expert elicitation studies on technological change and climate impact models into one decision framework. We identify plausible R&D portfolios that are robust to expert studies and climate impact models using the best available information. In this proof of concept, the method successfully narrows portfolios and identifies common ground on some technologies, allowing policymakers to negotiate over qualitative issues. We illustrate how this method can identify where the disagreement is most important. In this case, the different damage models resulted in starkly different investments in nuclear energy R&D.