The value of better information on technology R&D projects in response to climate change

Expert elicitations are a promising method for determining how R&D investments are likely to have an impact on technological advance in climate change energy technologies. But, expert elicitations are time-consuming and resource intensive. Thus, we investigate the value of the information gained in expert elicitations. More specifically, given baseline elicitations from one study (Baker, Chon, & Keisler 2008, 2009ab), we estimate the Expected Value of Better Information (EVBI) that could be gained from revisiting these assessments.

We find that the EVBI ranges from $100 million to $11 billion for individual technology categories. This is many orders of magnitude larger than the cost of accruing such information. This indicates that it may be worthwhile to move forward with large scale, carefully managed elicitations on climate change energy technology.

We find EVBI is higher on technologies with larger budgets, such as Nuclear Power; and on technologies with net values that are not too high or too low, such as Nuclear Feeder Reactors and Purely Organic Solar Cells. Finally, we find that the EVBI is impacted by uncertainty in climate change damages. In particular, we find that the EVBI for CCS technologies increases as the risk of catastrophe increases.