The use of Real Options and Multi-Objective Optimisation in Flood Risk Management
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The development of suitable long term flood risk intervention strategies is a challenge. Climate change alone is a significant complication but in addition complexities exist trying to identify the most appropriate set of interventions, the area with the highest economical benefit and the most opportune time for implementation. All of these elements pose difficulties to decision makers. Recently, there has been a shift in the current practice for appraising potential strategies and consideration is now being given to ensure flexible, adaptive strategies to account for the uncertain climatic conditions. Real Options in particular is becoming an acknowledged approach to account for the future uncertainties inherent in a flood risk investment decision. Real Options facilitates adaptive strategies as it enables the value of flexibility to be explicitly included within the decision making process. Opportunities are provided for the decision maker to modify and update investments when knowledge of the future state comes to light. In this thesis the use of Real Options in flood risk management is investigated as a method to account for the uncertainties of climate change. Each Intervention strategy is purposely designed to capture a level of flexibility and have the ability to adapt in the future if required. A state of the art flood risk analysis tool is employed to evaluate the risk associated to each strategy over future points in time. In addition to Real Options, this thesis also explores the use of evolutionary optimisation algorithms to aid the decision making process when identifying the most appropriate long term strategies. Although the risk analysis tool is capable of quantifying the potential benefits attributed to a strategy, it is not necessarily able to identify the most appropriate. Methods are required which can search for the optimal solutions according to a range of performance metrics. Single and multi-objective genetic algorithms are investigated in this thesis as a method to search for the most appropriate long term intervention strategies. The Real Options concepts are combined with the evolutionary multiobjective optimisation algorithm to create a decision support methodology which is capable of searching for the most appropriate long term economical yet robust intervention strategies which are flexible to future change. The methodology is applied to two individual case studies, a section of the Thames Estuary and an area on the River Dodder. The results show the inclusion of flexibility is advantageous while the outputs provide decision makers with supplementary knowledge which previously has not been considered.
PhD in Engineering