Project evaluation in the energy sector: The case of wind farm development

University essay from KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM); KTH/Skolan för industriell teknik och management (ITM)

Abstract: Wind is a fast growing energy resource and the demand for clean energy is increasing with growing interests from media, governmental institutions and the public (EWEA, 2004). The increased interest towards the wind energy market has led to a more competitive environment where it is crucial for a project developer to select projects most likely to succeed, in terms of profitability, among alternatives on the market. To enable such selection, an evaluation process is often applied. Furthermore, traditional evaluation processes are often performed at completion of a project where an early indication of a project’s potential profitability is often missing (Samset & Christensen, 2015). At the early phase of a wind energy project the multiple factors influencing the project’s outcome are often conflicting and contain high level of uncertainty and the evaluation process becomes complex (Kumar et al., 2017). In addition, these factors are difficult to quantify and to determine their relative weight of importance (Çolak & Kaya, 2017). This thesis aims to problematise the early project phase by contributing with a practical tool for evaluating wind energy projects at this phase. In addition, the thesis aims to contribute with an identification and monetarily quantification of the important factors to assess when doing so. The thesis is conducted as a case study at a company developing wind energy projects in Sweden. Due to the multiple factors that influencing a project’s outcome, MCDM (multi-criteria decisionmaking) analysis is used as the research process to create the tool. Findings from this study show that key factors that are possible to quantify at an early phase are conditions for civil works, grid conditions, wind resource and electricity price area. In general, their relative importance, measured in relative increase of IRR, is wind resource, electricity price area, grid conditions and civil works in the descending order. This study has four contributions, three theoretical and one practical. Firstly, the study confirms MCDM as a suitable analysis to use, when creating an evaluation model for wind energy projects. Secondly, the study confirms most of the important factors mentioned in the literature to assess when evaluating a wind energy project. However, this study contributes with insights that only conditions for civil works, grid conditions, wind resource and electricity price area can be quantified for the purpose of creating an evaluation tool at an early phase. Thirdly, previous studies have focused less on determining the relative weight of importance of the relevant key factors and this study contributes by quantifying and determining which of these key factors that are of relevance in an evaluation. Lastly, this study contributes practically by creating an evaluation tool suggested to be used by the case company to compare different projects on the market and form investment decisions based on financial data. Furthermore, the tool facilitates an equal evaluation process for all projects, thus leading to a more standardised decision-making process where the case company can focus their resources on the projects most likely to succeed.

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