Research team

Expertise

Prof. dr. Tine Compernolle is FED-tWIN researcher. She currently holds a tenure track position at the University of Antwerp (50%) and is senior researcher at the Geological Survey of Belgium, Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences (RBINS-GSB). My research activities focus on strategic decision making under uncertainty. I adopt the real options approach and integrate principles of game theory to analyze investment decision under multiple sources of uncertainty, while taking into account the value of flexibility. Because firms do not operate in isolation, also interactions of different economic actors with a cooperative or competitive framework need to be addressed. I adopt these real option games in the field of environmental economics and more particularly on subsurface developments, in close collaboration with scientists in the field of geology and hydrogeology. Central research question is how to develop the subsurface in a sustainable way. Geological resources play a crucial role in every-day life. The subsurface provides multiple services and a variety of activities takes place at varying depths. In Flanders for instance, the Campine Basin is used for the seasonal storage of natural gas and this basin is currently also the sole target resource for direct use of geothermal energy production in Flanders. At more shallow depths, groundwater is being extracted and used for the production of drinking water, in the agricultural sector or in other industries. Because the number of geological formations suited for these activities is limited and because the subsurface is a complex and interlinked system, competition between subsurface uses is already taking place and is likely to increase. Subsurface activities do not operate in isolation. Past activities (like mining) have left imprints that dictate current subsurface utilizations and present subsurface activities will leave imprints that will dictate the options for future subsurface utilization. Also, different subsurface activities are operating simultaneously. Real options games traditionally cover only one perspective: the economic perspective. Besides (hydro)geological aspects, we also aim to integrate above-ground environmental impacts as well as social aspects like environmental justice and stakeholder perceptions. With these research activities we aim to get insights about (i) the geological and economic boundary conditions that determine the selection of subsurface development options, (2) the environmental economic costs and benefits associated with interfering subsurface activities, (iii) the options that can be considered as most valuable to manage the risk of negatively interfering subsurface activities, (iv) about how to plan simultaneously or consecutively operating subsurface activities such that the subsurface can be developed at the highest expected reward and the lowest expected economic and environmental risks, and (v) about how to distribute subsurface resources equitably within and across generations. The application of real option games is not only relevant in the field of environmental economics. I also develop real option games in the field of urban planning (in close collaboration with Prof. Dr. Tom Coppens) and transport economics (in collaboration with Prof. Dr. Bruno de Borger).

Resilient CLIMATE Financing and Investment Taskforces (CLIMATEFIT). 01/09/2023 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

Urgent accelerated action is required to adapt to unavoidable and ongoing climate change. Climate-resilient investments must be substantially scaled up. Public budgets will not be able to address the adaptation financing challenge alone, financing from the private sector will also be necessary. CLIMATEFIT contributes to bridging the resilience financing gap by providing critical insight and building the capacities of Public Authorities (PAs) to attract and orchestrate various public and private funding & financing sources, and of Financing and Investment Entities (FIEs) to discover and access resilient investment opportunities. CLIMATEFIT will experiment on a mix of 20 territories in Southern, Eastern and Northwestern Europe in their transformational pathways towards climate resilience. The journey will start by taking stock of funding & financing barriers and enablers gathered in the Financing Landscape taxonomy. CLIMATEFIT will create an ingenious Manual for leveraging finance to, 1) co-design 20 innovative investment strategies allowing to identify sources of funding 2) develop 10 credible and scalable investment plans to help better negotiate and articulate financing streams and define investment concepts, and 3) pilot 4 bankable, tailored investment cases. CLIMATEFIT will build a Pathway for FIEs to accelerate finance, test refined methods to reward climate-resilient investment and apply smart adaptation funding and financing solutions. It will establish Local Resilience Taskforces (LRTs) composed of PAs and FIEs that propose a catalytic and systemic approach to resilience financing. Led by WCF, the high-level consortium will build capacity, co-create solutions with PAs and FIEs, and inform EU adaptation and sustainable finance policies. Finally, CLIMATEFIT aims to boost resilience financing in Europe by consolidating the dynamics in LRTs, and to promote and scale its research findings through the European Network of LRTs and its user-oriented One Stop Shop

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  • Research Project

Multidisciplinary assessment of subsurface interactions: the fundamentals (MASSIF). 01/01/2023 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

Subsurface pore space is a valuable commodity, fixed geographically but subject to multiple uses over time. Because the subsurface is an interlinked system, competition between subsurface uses is likely to increase. It is currently too difficult to establish an effective policy framework for managing interference effects because existing assessment models focus on single subsurface activities and do not quantify the interactions between different uses. The proposed MASSIF project aims to advance scientific research through the development of an interdisciplinary and dynamic modelling framework integrating innovative loosely-coupled hydrogeological models with economic real option games and territorial environmental life cycle assessment. This modelling framework will be applied to the Campine Basin, using data records from the natural gas storage site, nearby geothermal applications, the overlying aquifers and two monitoring stations to be installed at wells near Merksplas. We will quantify (i) the interactions effects between different subsurface uses, (ii) the boundary conditions for subsurface activities to take place simultaneously, (iii) trade-offs in hydro-geological, environmental and economic impacts, and (iv) the risk-benefit balance. MASSIF lays the fundamentals for a more generic methodological framework applicable to other subsurface uses, to study synergies, and to assess other aspects (geo-mechanical, social) as well as policy instruments.

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  • Research Project

Blueprint demonstration for co-created effective, efficient and resilient networks of MPAs (BLUE4ALL) 01/01/2023 - 31/12/2026

Abstract

BLUE4ALL will align top-down regulatory demands about European (networks of) MPAs with bottom-up societal expectations as a guarantee for achieving effective, efficient and resilient MPAs and networks of MPAs which meet EU Biodiversity Strategy 2030 objectives. By mobilizing stakeholders from BLUE4ALL's 25 information sites and Living Labs, i.e. locations across the Mediterranean Sea, the Baltic Sea and the North-East Atlantic regions where (networks of) MPAs have been established and from which lessons learned can be drawn about success and failure relative to how challenges were tackled, we will co-create robust and replicable social, governance, ecological and environmental tools to meet conservation and/or restoration objectives in socially sustainable and acceptable ways. These science-based tools will be tested in Living Labs, i.e. locations where (networks of) MPAs are in the process of establishment and where these tools can be fed into the ongoing MPA process. The operationalized and tested frameworks will ultimately be generalized into a Blueprint Platform for the co-creation of effective, efficient and resilient (networks of) MPAs. This scheme will separate generically encountered challenges and applied solutions from MPA (network)-specific challenges and solutions and develop guidance in a user friendly manner to end-users (i.e. MPA (network) managers and authorities). This guidance will take the shape of an interactive web based Blueprint Platform directing the end-users to those challenges and solutions most applicable to their site(s). User-friendliness and applicability will be maximized by cross-checking the Blueprint Platform development with the actors and stakeholders of the Living Labs throughout the whole process of its development. Knowledge transfer and interaction with stakeholders and society-at-large at local to regional scales will lead to the development of a platform for MPA networking to interact with communities of practice boosting the BLUE4ALL legacy to its ultimate goal to restore our oceans and waters

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  • Research Project

Towards socially justified subsurface use (JUST). 01/12/2022 - 30/11/2024

Abstract

Knowledge gap: assessing the potential social impact of large scale industrial activity, particularly in a planning stage remains a huge challenge, in spite of a vast and growing literature on Social Impact Assessment (SIA) or Social Life Cycle Analysis (SLCA), and continuous and expanding efforts to develop a standardized methodology comparable to environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) (Alomoto et al., 2022). This challenge becomes even bigger in relation to deep subsurface activity, as the link to society is less visible. Attempts to develop generic key social categories and indicators for particular technologies (e.g. Rafiaani et al. (2020) for CCUS) tend to focus on socio-economic indicators such as employment impact, or public health indicators, strongly related to environmental impact indicators. This is partly due to the relatively easy measurability of such indicators, as compared to less tangible and more qualitative issues, such as social capital or cohesion. Objective: we will develop a framework for qualitative social impact analysis as a tool for identifying pathways for impacting (positively or negatively) the social fabric and amenity value of affected communities as plans and projects for subsurface activities develop. Rather than explicitly weighing and predicting these impact, such a framework aims to raise awareness of the evolutive process of the mutual shaping of large scale subsurface projects and their social environment on the surface, and to provide guidance on how to assure a 'just' subsurface policy and planning culture. Task 1: Literature study to collect possible indicators and methods for assessing social impact through stakeholder engagement and pluralistic value judgements with environmental justice as a leading framework. Task 2 Stakeholder mapping: (a) identify relevant actors and potentially affected groups; as well as (b) their perceptions and concerns vis-à-vis potential subsurface activities in their environment; and (c) their interest in and needs regarding participation in the related decisionmaking process [focus on Recognition Justice].

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  • Research Project

Overcoming the barriers towards the design and deployment of economically feasible, environmentally desirable and socially acceptable carbon dioxide capture, transport, utilization and storage (CCUS) value chains. 01/11/2022 - 31/10/2024

Abstract

To address climate change and environmental degradation, the EU has set objectives with net zero greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 2050 to become the first climate-neutral continent. Carbon Capture, Utilization and Storage (CCUS) is expected to be one of the key technological solutions as it allows to address inevitable GHG emissions. To establish CCUS value chains and stimulate investments to ensure adequate scale and availability of the technology, it is crucial to understand, develop and implement measures to prioritize the development of the technologies with the highest potential potential (as well economically). Current state-of-the-art techno-economic and environmental impact assessments of CCUS are limited due to following reasons: (i) heterogeneity in potential CCUS value chains, point sources, capture methods, transport, storage, and utilization, (ii) their dependence on specific information related to background systems of specific technologies, specific geographic conditions and time period, (iii) the current lack of accepted benchmarks, best practices and integrated sustainability assessments for CCUS and (iv) the social dimension that is not addressed in current assessments. This makes current state-of-the-art methods data-intensive and the obtained results very specific. Thus, there is a need for a standardized, harmonized, generic methodological framework to stimulate the design and deployment of economically feasible, environmentally desirable and socially acceptable CCUS value chains. This requires a multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary approach involving expertise from different fields: chemical engineering, economics, sociology, quantitative sustainability assessments, process systems engineering and stakeholders along the value chain. The proposed postdoc challenge is as follows: "How can we create understanding about the levers that are needed to design and deploy economically feasible, environmentally desirable and socially acceptable carbon dioxide capture, transport, utilization and storage (CCUS) value chains ?" The following aspects are expected to be addressed : - Advances beyond the current state-of-the-art research on the sustainability impacts of CCUS. - Provide a harmonized, holistic, integrated prospective/ex-ante sustainability assessment framework on the full CCUS system and CCUS value chains, facilitating development of the most technologically, economically feasible, environmentally desirable and socially acceptable CCUS technologies and value chains. - Involvement of different stakeholders in the CCUS value chains - Reproducibility and honest benchmarking of CCUS technologies - Sound assessments to guide R&D in the most optimal direction and pinpoint those areas of technologies and systems that have the highest potential and where improvement is required.

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  • Research Project

Providing operational economic appraisal methods and practices for informed decision-making in climate and environmental policies (PATTERN). 01/06/2022 - 31/05/2025

Abstract

The PATTERN project's general objective is to improve practitioners' capacity for decision making on climate and environmental policies, by developing an interactive online platform for the economic appraisal of policies and measures. To reach this general objective, the project will develop an operational integrated economic appraisal approach (WP3 and 4), deliver guidelines to bridge ex-post and exante analyses (WP1), build and demonstrate an effective participatory process to create 5 Theories of Change (WP2), build a European Community of Practice for climate and environmental policymaking (WP6), and create a One-Stop-Shop for all policy and decision makers to access and use the project results easily. PATTERN will thus provide decision-makers, stakeholders, and the public with more realistic and operational ability to systematically assess their policies and their consequences. It will provide a basis for improving (i) methodologies, techniques and models for conducting economic appraisal of climate and environmental policies (ii) the broader policy evaluation framework and practices currently used in European countries and their regions and (iii) tailored analysis and engagement strategies structures for the participation and co-creation with relevant stakeholders and key actors to enhance operational capacities and improve the impact of European policies on climate and environment. Overall, results obtained from in-depth ex-post and ex-ante analysis of the PATTERN's 5 case studies will bring new evidence on the effectiveness of various types of regulatory strategies, instruments and approaches for climate and environmental policies and insights for the design and evaluation of the implementation of major European policies.

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  • Research Project

InnoFiNS. Implementing innovative financing for nature-based solutions in Flemish cities 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2025

Abstract

Flemish cities are expected to take a leading role in climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. At the core of these strategies are nature based solutions (NBS) by green, blue and hybrid urban infrastructures. NBS address multiple problems related to climate change in an integrated, sustainable way. Although investments in NBS infrastructures are considered a cost effective way to achieve future societal and environmental benefits, current public budgets in Flanders are insufficient. As a result, the gap between investments in and societal need for NBS is growing. In contrast to limited public budgets, there is an abundance of private capital seeking for investments. Yet, the potential to invest private capital in NBS is not fully exploited. NBS projects typically have sizeable upfront costs and diffuse and long-term societal benefits that are not easily captured in steady cash flows, making privately financed schemes often inappropriate. In order to attract private investments to NBS, new business models and alternative financing mechanisms are needed. In this project, we study the utilisation potential of innovative financing models in the Flemish context by developing real life business cases of NBS, using new instruments such as impact financing, value capturing and ICO-crowd funding. In order to develop a realistic and holistic interdisciplinary approach, this strategic research will study how new financial instruments impact planning and design, governance arrangements, valuation methods, legal institutions and instruments as well as social justice. The urban living lab approach will ensure continuous integrated assessment of the spatial, juridical, institutional, economic feasibility and social impact of the new financing business models, optimising the utilisation potential for the societal users.

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  • Research Project

A dynamic and multi-dimensional assessment of interacting subsurface activities. A case study for the Campine Basin. 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2025

Abstract

Geological resources play a crucial role in every-day life. The subsurface provides multiple services and a variety of activities takes place at varying depths. In Flanders, the Campine Basin is used for the seasonal storage of natural gas and this basin is currently also the sole target resource for direct use of geothermal energy production in Flanders. At more shallow depths, groundwater is being extracted and used for the production of drinking water, in the agricultural sector or in other industries. Because the number of geological formations suited for these activities is limited and because the subsurface is a complex and interlinked system, competition between subsurface uses is already taking place and is likely to increase. Subsurface activities do not operate in isolation. Past activities (like mining) have left imprints that dictate current subsurface utilizations and present subsurface activities will leave imprints that will dictate the options for future subsurface utilization. Also, different subsurface activities are operating simultaneously, like the seasonal gas storage facility in Loenhout and the geothermal energy extraction at the site of Johnson & Johnson in Beerse. At the current knowledge level, the consequences of the large spatial and temporal impact of interacting subsurface activities may result in unanticipated and irreversible environmental and economic consequences, impacting the livelihood of current and future generations. The general research objective is to develop a dynamic and interdisciplinary method to assess the hydrogeological, environmental and economic impacts of different subsurface development options through time, taking into account interaction effects between subsurface activities, different sources of uncertainty and flexibility options. Hydrogeological models that assess interference effects between subsurface activities will be integrated with environmental economics models. The economic modelling approach combines principles of the real options theory and game theory to simulate and assess strategic decision-making processes under multiple sources of uncertainty. Environmental impacts are calculated based on a novel territorial life cycle assessment to account for spatial variability and to create knowledge about the geological parameters that contribute the most to overall local and regional environmental impacts of subsurface activities. Based on the results we will get insights about (i) the geological and economic boundary conditions that determine the selection of a specific pathway, (2) the environmental economic costs and benefits associated with interfering subsurface activities, (iii) the options that can be considered as most valuable to manage the risk of negatively interfering subsurface activities, and (iv) about how to plan simultaneously or consecutively operating subsurface activities such that the subsurface can be developed at the highest expected reward and the lowest expected economic and environmental risks.

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  • Research Project

Accelerating and upscaling transformational adaptation in Europe: demonstration of water-related innovation packages (TransformAr). 01/10/2021 - 30/09/2025

Abstract

TransformAr aims to develop and demonstrate solutions and pathways to achieve rapid and far-reaching transformational adaptation (TA) across the EU. Cross-sectoral and multi-scale innovation packages, as the combination of solutions and pathways, will support regions and communities in their societal transformation towards climate change resilience. Region-specific portfolios (RSPs) including Nature-Based Solutions, innovative technologies, financing, insurance and governance models, awareness and behavioural change are co-developed and demonstrated. Transformational adaptation will be triggered by a co-innovation process that will co-create transformational adaptation pathways for six demonstrator regions and communities in Europe. The pathway cocreation process is supported by user-friendly, accessible, and comprehensive multi-sector dynamics data services. The data services fit to the needs of public and private investors, including citizens in TA. To accelerate investment in climate change adaptation (CCA), and to enable that plans are brought into practice, TransformAr also demonstrates the potential of business models and alternative finance mechanisms for transformation adaptation. A European Community of Practice will furthermore be organised and institutionalised to facilitate the exchange of knowledge and other resources that may help to overcome barriers, implement, and accelerate opportunities.

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  • Research Project

InnoFiNS. Implementing innovative financing for nature-based solutions in Flemish cities. 01/12/2020 - 30/11/2024

Abstract

Flemish cities are expected to take a leading role in climate adaptation and mitigation strategies. At the core of these strategies are nature based solutions (NBS) by green, blue and hybrid urban infrastructures. NBS address multiple problems related to climate change in an integrated, sustainable way. Although investments in NBS infrastructures are considered a cost effective way to achieve future societal and environmental benefits, current public budgets in Flanders are insufficient. As a result, the gap between investments in and societal need for NBS is growing. In contrast to limited public budgets, there is an abundance of private capital seeking for investments. Yet, the potential to invest private capital in NBS is not fully exploited. NBS projects typically have sizeable upfront costs and diffuse and long-term societal benefits that are not easily captured in steady cash flows, making privately financed schemes often inappropriate. In order to attract private investments to NBS, new business models and alternative financing mechanisms are needed. In this project, we study the utilization potential of innovative financing models in the Flemish context by developing real life business cases of NBS, using new instruments such as impact financing, value capturing and ICO-crowd funding. In order to develop a realistic and holistic interdisciplinary approach, this strategic research will study how new financial instruments impact planning and design of NBS infrastructure. The urban living lab approach will ensure continuous integrated assessment of the spatial, juridical, institutional, economic feasibility and social impact of the new financing business models, optimising the utilisation potential for the societal users. This research project will be integrated in the SBO-FWO project Innofins if granted. The SEP grant will be used to finance the planning and design research track of the proposal and will finance a part time post doc to coordinate the living labs and to develop a new proposal for similar funding opportunities.

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  • Research Project

Towards sustainable and dynamic management of subsurface activities (GEOLOGICAL ECONOMICS). 15/09/2020 - 14/09/2030

Abstract

Societal Challenge The subsurface is a valuable but vulnerable resource that needs careful management. However, at present the subsurface is allocated ad-hoc and current studies on subsurface activities (e.g. CCS, geothermal energy) merely focus on the technology and do not consider the subsurface as a geological resource that requires a sustainable and dynamic management given geotechnical and economic uncertainties. Challenges relate to i) the pressures that geological resource use exerts on the geological and biophysical environment, ii) unfair distribution of geological resources, iii) failing policy instruments, and iv) uncertainties. Objective An inter-institutional team of PhDs and contractual researchers led by the FED-tWIN researcher will be established, which addresses the challenges associated with the sustainable and dynamic management of geological resources. The lead time of 10 years is used to specialise in i) defining a geological and sustainable scale of subsurface use taking into account the interference of subsurface activities, ii) the development of geological economic decision support models to evaluate the conservation, prioritization, and equitable allocation of geological resources, iii) the assessment of collective governance structures to deal with environmental impacts, iv) the development of real options models and adaptive co-management frameworks to take into account the irreversible consequences of subsurface activities, different types of uncertainty, and the flexibility options that firms and policy makers have. This sound knowledge base will be internationally advanced and guarantees successful, long-term research in the field of geological and ecological economics under the auspices of the RBINS and the University of Antwerp (UAntwerp).

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  • Research Project

Decision Support under Uncertainty for Geothermal Applications (DESIGNATE). 15/12/2019 - 15/09/2024

Abstract

In order to meet climate goals and provide energy security, geothermal energy can play an important part in the energy production portfolio. The current implementation of geothermal energy in Belgium is very limited and making accurate predictions about its economic potential is difficult clue to large uncertainties. The DESIGNATE project will develop tools and workflows for investigating the potential of deep geothermal energy and geothermal applications in abandoned mines in Belgium, while considering uncertainty at reservoir, technology and economic level. The classical approach of using a limited number of numerical reservoir simulations as input into economic models often falls short in the fields of uncertainties, investment risk and regional energy and environmental simulations. Analytical models can provide fast and continuous results with an accurate representation of uncertainty into techno-economic and environmental models. The DESIGNATE project will develop analytical models for different geological settings and technological applications. This becomes challenging when stepping away from simple well designs and homogenous reservoirs, and including uncertainty. These analytical models will provide direct input for a geological techno-economic assessment (G-TEA) and a territorial life cycle assessment (LCA). The G-TEA wi ll include decision tree analysis and Real Options analysis for allowing flexible adjustment to uncertainty. The territorial LCA approach will include determining impacts on the surface and subsurface, with a time and spatial aspect. Both G-TEA and LCA results will be coupled to provide a full overview of impacts of geothermal projects. In parallel, the current version of the Policy Support System (PSS) for geological C02 storage will be converted to make integrated forecasts under uncertainty on the deployment of geothermal projects in a regional context. PSS Geothermal will simulate making investment decisions on geotherma l projects by using optionality and nested Monte Carlo calculations for limited foresight. Project development is simulated considering the analytical reservoir models as resource, the technical and economic aspects of project development, heat transport,energy demand, energy market and the policy framework. A highly multi-disciplinary approach is necessary to successfully complete this integration.

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  • Research Project

Societal impact related to the use and governance of the Flemish deep subsurface. 02/01/2023 - 01/04/2024

Abstract

This project aims to identify hydrogeological, ecological, economic and social criteria for sustainable subsurface management in Flanders. Geological methods, are coupled with methods from environmental economics and social sciences to gain insight into: (i) indicators and preconditions for sustainable subsurface development, (ii) geological opportunities and impacts, and (iii) above-ground environmental-economic and social impacts. Stakeholders from both the public and private sector are actively involved in the study to gain insight into their perceptions of sustainable and equitable subsurface development. The aim of this research is to provide the client (the Flemish Environment Planning Office - VPO) with tools to make well-considered (scientifically sound and socially involved) strategic policy choices regarding the sustainable use of the deep subsurface in Flanders.

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  • Research Project

Towards a sustainable scale of subsurface developments: an ecological economics approach (TraSCee). 01/12/2021 - 30/11/2023

Abstract

Social-ecological systems are linked systems of people and nature, emphasizing that humans must be seen as a part of, not apart from, nature. Currently, there exists no sound scientific basis that describes the complex interactions at the interface of the geological system component and the socio-economic system component. Decisions on subsurface utilization, changes in the subsurface, associated above-ground global and local environmental changes, energy production systems, energy consumption patterns, and waste disposal networks are activities that mediate between the geological and socio-economic elements of the broader socio-ecological system. To govern this system, it is important to create an understanding about how socio-economic and geological conditions influence the processes and patterns which define this system and the embedded interactions. The objective of this research project is to bring together the necessary elements for modelling the geological and socio-economic system to study interacting processes related to specific subsurface activities (deep geothermal, seasonal gas storage and high-radioactive waste disposal) in a relevant geological context, i.e. the Campine Basin. This will allow to consider how the subsurface reservoir under consideration can optimally be developed. This implies defining the concept of sustainable scale by dimensioning and timing activities so that current and future generations can equally benefit from the subsurface resources. Each of the activities lay in their own way a temporary or permanent claim on the subsurface, and equally differently contribute to current and future wellbeing. The research result is a prior geological-socio-economic model that will act as a stochastic framework and that makes the current understanding and uncertainties about above and below ground interactions explicit. Each following reservoir or socio-economic model analyzing subsurface development scenarios for the Campine Basin will draw directly from this framework and will be able to be mapped to it. First, current geological and socio-economic models of the Campine Basin will be reviewed and translated into a suited prior geological-socio-economic modelling framework. Then, the asymmetry of below and above ground interference effects related to these three activities will be identified and described in a real geological-economic context and it will be discussed how this leads to a nested and interactive reservoir model connected to a socio-economic decision framework. Starting from this informed conceptualized model, the different subsurface activities will be modelled in box-type reservoir and socio-economic models that will facilitate the setting of boundary conditions, as well as allow to combine models into one framework. This approach of nested modelling allows to integrate geological and socio-economic outputs and advance them to study the interferences of the different activities, and link this subsurface component to the socio-economic system component.

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  • Research Project

Financing for urban development projects near the Antwerp ring road (research lab: financing) 01/06/2021 - 31/05/2023

Abstract

The research lab financing has a twofold purpose. The first aim of the research lab is to gain insight into the demand for financing and the financing available for the Antwerp region. This demand is compared with the financing capacity of the governments involved on the one hand, and the possibilities for alternative financing and income on the other. The second aim of the research lab is to gain insight into the social costs and benefits of the projects of the southern Antwerp ring-road that are not yet part of the decided policy, as well as uncertainties that can influence the costs and benefits over time. In the first phase, attention will be paid to the tunneling, after which the developed method can be further rolled out to the other projects. The uncertainties and development options are mapped out using a decision tree, to examine which development path is expected to yield the highest social net benefit, taking into account other projects or factors that may influence the tunneling projects.

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  • Research Project

Support for economic aspects of measures and policy options regarding biodiversity 01/12/2020 - 01/12/2023

Abstract

This project support the Federal Government of Belgium with economic aspects, policy measures, policy instruments and policy options regarding biodiversity. In this contest, the economic valuation of ecosystem services can be of importance.

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  • Research Project

Exploratory research regarding the establishment of a working group on financing liveability projects for the Antwerp ring road 23/11/2020 - 31/01/2021

Abstract

Assessment of the existing documents that quantify the expected costs and effects of the liveability projects near the Antwerp Ringroad. Presentation of a structured overview of the information available. Stakeholder analysis to assess the expectation of a possible future working group on financing. Implementation plan of a working group on financing.

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  • Research Project

Real options for real urban projects. 01/11/2019 - 31/10/2023

Abstract

This interdisciplinary project aims to develop an innovative, approach for planning, design and decision making in complex spatial projects – e.g. transport infrastructure, urban development – and (urban) planning based on the real options theory from economics and finance. Contrary to the static rational model and "predict and control" approach, the real options approach offers a flexible way for coping with uncertainties through flexibility options that allow for project adjustments, making projects more adaptive to a dynamic and ever changing environment. However, a current theory-practice gap between real options theory and planning and design practice limits its practical value, accessibility, and applicability due to quantitative complexity and a lack of interference with real-life decision-making. Through the involvement of stakeholders and the use of pilot projects for the application of real options in Flanders, I will research the appropriate methods to tailor the real options theory to the needs of decision makers, planners, project managers, designers, etc. Throughout this project, (I) the research results will address several knowledge gaps in the existing literature on adaptive planning and design, real options theory and complex spatial projects; and (II) an accessible real options based framework (theories, tools, methods, models) will be developed to be used as a more flexible and adaptive approach in planning, design and decision-making.

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  • Research Project

Real options for real urban projects. 01/10/2019 - 30/09/2022

Abstract

This interdisciplinary project aims to develop an innovative approach for design and decision-making in complex spatial projects (CSPs) and (urban) planning based on the real options theory (ROT) from economics and finance. The real options approach offers a flexible way for coping with dynamic uncertainties and to make projects more adaptive to a dynamic and ever changing environment. CSPs are large-scale projects (e.g. transport and urban infrastructure) that require a high investment cost, take many years to develop and involve multiple public/private stakeholders. Decision makers have to face a great deal of uncertainties and risks in CSPs. Predicting future private and social costs and benefits is difficult, since they can be impacted by multiple interacting uncertainties. Managing uncertainties is therefore an important task in project management. However, dominant practices that support decision-making in CSPs are deficient and inflexible. Cost benefit analysis (CBA) and environmental impact assessments (EIA) do not properly take into account how uncertainties impact predictions that result in different future scenarios. Traditional risk management therefore tries to push out risks and uncertainties as much as possible through risk avoidance, risk reduction or shifting risks to other parties. In nine out of ten projects, costs are underestimated and/or benefits are overestimated. In the past two decades, ROT has increasingly been advocated as an alternative and flexible approach in fields such as energy planning and (transport) infrastructure. The ROT integrates the concepts of irreversible decision-making, uncertainty and flexibility in the decision analysis. ROT considers flexibility options ("real options") as valuable to deal with multiple uncertainties. Instead of making every decision based on possibly inaccurate forecasts early in a project, keeping flexibility options alive can help a project better to adapt to possible future changes. This requires identifying and monitoring uncertainties and risks, rather than pushing them out, along with identifying flexibility options as responses to these uncertainties. ROT is a quantitative approach using methods and models that allow to quantify flexibility options' value, as well as determining the optimal timing (future scenario) for exercising options. It not only helps to better protect projects against possible downside losses, but also allow projects to capture the upside value of strategic and better balanced decisions References of real options applications in planning and design remain however limited. Furthermore, its proven (theoretical) potential and increasing popularity are in contrast to its lacking practical value, leading to a gap between real option theory and planning and design. We identified three sources for this gap in our review paper on real options applications in transport infrastructure and megaprojects: (I) simplification of case-studies leads to a simplification of the complex reality in which projects are planned, neglecting multiple interacting uncertainties and embedded flexibility options; (II) quantitative real options methods require (advanced) mathematical knowledge which decision makers often lack; and (III) real options applications lack interaction with practitioners from the field. How to bridge the real options planning/design gap? How to turn real options' theoretical methods and models into practical relevant methods and tools for CSPs and planning processes? Our main goal is to develop a ROT based framework – in cooperation with experts and practitioners from CSPs in Flanders – for adaptive planning that allows to better identify, assess, manage and monitor uncertainties and flexibility options in CSPs. This will help improve decision making and planning practices in Flanders, by making CSPs more adaptive and robust in a dynamic and complex environment.

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  • Research Project

Designing the packing materials and catalysts for selective and energy efficient plasma-driven conversion (PLASMACATDESIGN). 01/01/2019 - 31/12/2022

Abstract

PlasMaCatDESIGN aims to develop design rules for (catalytically activated) packing materials to enhance plasma-activated gas phase conversion reactions to basic chemicals. By understanding the material - properties – activity correlation we target enhanced conversion, selectivity and energy efficiency of plasma driven chemical production for two selected industrially and environmentally relevant model reactions in which plasma catalysis can have specific advantages: selective CO2 conversion towards C1-C5 (oxygenated) hydrocarbons and inorganic amine synthesis (nitrogen fixation).

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  • Research Project

Real options for real complex urban projects. 01/07/2018 - 31/12/2019

Abstract

This interdisciplinary project aims to develop a conceptual frame and a tool for dealing with risks in complex urban projects, based on real options theory from economics Urban designers and decision makers in urban projects face a great deal of uncertainty in the design and management of complex urban projects. As the time lap between design and implementation can take more than one or two decades, their designs have to be adaptable and flexible to cope with future uncertainties. In the practice of design and management of complex project the common approach however is still to ignore, contain or minimize risks. The Nobel prize wining idea on real options provide a novel and formal approach to risk and uncertainty. Instead of focusing on risk as a loss, this theory puts focus on the value of flexibility as a way to deal with multiple types of uncertainty. It provides formal tools to assess the value of future options. Based on the theory of real options, we develop a novel conceptual frame and relevant approach for complex urban projects. The conceptual frame will be applied to the case study of the covering of the ring road in Antwerpen

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  • Research Project

Investment in public transport: a real options approach 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

Current real options models only evaluate the impact of demand uncertainty on the timing of public transport investments. This project considers an investor in public transport infrastructure who maximizes social welfare and an investor in public transport service that maximizes profit. By the development of a sequential real option game, this project will evaluate how demand uncertainty affects the optimal capacity level and optimal timing of both investments and how the investment in public transport infrastructure influences the investment in public transport services. To make relevant decisions for the public transport sector, existing real option game models need to be adapted: the investment is considered as a determinant of public transport demand. The integration of such feedback relation is novel and unconventional in the field of the real options theory. Furthermore, also optimal policy measures to induce a welfare maximizing behavior of the transport service provider will be evaluated. This research project will not only advance the current state-ofthe- art, it also contributes to ongoing discussions on the liberalization of the public transport sector. By setting up a collaboration between the University of Antwerp, Tilburg University, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Hasselt University, we have an outstanding scientific team that has proven to produce original research in the field of transport economics and the real options theory.

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  • Research Project

A new value chain for the Flemish bio-economy through inventive wood refining towards highly valuable agro-industrial chemicals (BIOWOOD). 01/01/2018 - 31/12/2021

Abstract

The BioWood project aims at boosting the economic and environmental performance of the Flemish bio- economy by providing the knowledge base to create a novel wood-based value chain for the chemical and agro-industries. This value chain will be based on inventive conversion technologies, starting from local, inexpensive and available woody biomass resources and targeting highly valuable agro-industrial applications. The main objectives are: (i) detailed inventory of currently available woody biomass feedstock from forests, landscapes, imports and waste flows in Flanders, and determination of their current value to develop a a spatio- temporal optimisation tool for the best allocation of woody biomass and best location of a new biofactory in Flanders using sustainability and cost efficiency criteria; (ii) Design of a flexible refinery process for complex and variable lignocellulose feeds to synthesise novel organic products for agro-industrial applications; (iii) Proof-of-concept of novel products for agro-industrial applications with a performance at least equalling the performance of current agro-industrial products; (iv) techno-economic and real options analysis of the entire value chain of a bio-based production unit, from woody biomass feedstock to agro-industrial products by analysis of uncertainties and flexibility options.

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  • Research Project

Cooperative real options games in environmental economics. 01/10/2016 - 14/09/2020

Abstract

By developing real options models that address uncertainty, advances have been made in ecological economics and resource economics. Recently, the real options theory itself has advanced towards real option games. These models also consider the interaction of economic actors within a competitive or cooperative setting. Because the transition towards resource and energy efficient economies requires the involvement of all economic actors, the theory of real option games form an opportunity to further combine research in environmental economics and dynamic decision making. For different environmental challenges, it will be studied when it is optimal to invest and how cooperation can take place. Also advances in the field of real option games will be made: (1) the sequence of the investments and the direction of the cash flows are not predefined, (2) the interdependence between complementary investments will be studied, and (3) focus is on cooperative strategies. The cooperation with various European research groups, will allow me to improve my competences and to create an own research line that combines research in the field of environmental economics and dynamic optimization. My expertise on the development of real options games will extend the existing economic expertise at the Department of economics at Antwerp University and because these economic models address environmental economic issues, cooperation between different research departments will be strengthened.

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  • Research Project