Our Projects

These are the locations of projects currently being pursued by the UNC Center on Financial Risk in Environmental Systems. Please contact us if you would like to discuss any of these in more detail.

Biofuels Production

Algae-based biofuels have many advantages over conventional biofuels, but productivity in algal biofuel facilities is impacted by deviations from expected weather conditions (e.g., temperature, insolation), which gives rise to financial risks that must be effectively managed in order to make these renewable energy investments attractive.


Drought impacts both water and power availability in California, imposing financial risks that are a function of linked natural-engineered-economic systems. Integrated systems models allow for a improved characterization of both supply- and financial-risks, as well as for the development of strategies for better managing them.

Catawba Basin

An important measure of power utilities' financial exposure to drought is how utilities' investors (shareholders and bond holders) are impacted, with changes in power generation mix playing an important role.

Central Arizona

The Central Arizona Project (CAP) pumps Colorado River water through a system of aqueducts and reservoirs to 80% of the state’s residents, but drought results in less pumping and forces the CAP to increase its delivery prices to meet its fixed costs. Price increases vary with hydrology, and are disruptive to customers, but can be offset through the use of alternative mechanisms.

Coastal Carolina

Coastal Carolina has been hit by numerous hurricanes and related floods, with financial risks accruing to property owners, lenders, and local governments. Improved understanding of these risks, and innovative strategies for managing them can greatly enhance regional resilience in the wake of these events.

Colorado River Basin

Drought in the Colorado imposes financial risks on both urban and agricultural water users. Novel financial instruments and water market transfer mechanisms can reduce these risks by facilitating more rapid and less expensive re-allocation of water during periods of scarcity.

Columbia River Basin

Electricity supplies in hydropower-dominated regions are particularly vulnerable to drought which reduces generation and revenues for power producers at intermittent times and severity levels. Managing these financial risks can be more efficiently achieved via strategies that employ a combination of actions that include risk reduction (tariff adjustment), risk retention (reserve funds) and risk transfer (index insurance).

Great Lakes

Low water levels impose financial risks on both shipping firms and hydropower producers in the Great Lakes. Index insurance linked to water level behavior can be used to effectively manage these risks.

Healthcare Facilities

Healthcare facilities must often resort to extreme measures during infectious disease outbreaks, such as canceling elective procedures, to ensure sufficient capacity to accommodate the surge of infected patients. This can be effective for maintaining public health, but often results in large losses for hospitals which must be managed if they are to maintain financially stability during these events.


Hurricanes lead to contaminant releases that are extremely expensive to remediate. Developing strategies for managing the resulting financial risks can facilitate quicker, more effective cleanup that protects public health.

Mississippi Basin

Drought lowers water levels in the Mississippi River, disrupting barge traffic that serves as the most efficient means of transporting many bulk goods (e.g., corn, soybeans). This results in a combination of reduced revenues for shippers and higher costs for producers moving products to market. An understanding of these financial risks allows for improved decisions on how best to manage them.

Research Triangle

From water transfers to index insurance to infrastructure sequencing, a wide variety of physical and financial tools can help water utilities combat the financial risks of water scarcity.

Roanoke Basin

Designing risk management tools to protect hydropower producers against drought involves an understanding of both hydrological risk and electricity price risk.

Tampa Bay

Water utilities are subject to considerable long-term financial risk due to uncertainties in demand growth and climate, which can result in excess costs for infrastructure when demand growth lags, or reductions in supply reliability if water availability declines relative to historic patterns. New strategies for coordinated management of supply risk and financial risk can improve a utility’s ability to meet its performance goals.

US Water Utilities

Drought imposes financial risks on water utilities that can be managed with financial instruments. The cost of these instruments can be significantly reduced by pooling risks across geographically dispersed utilities.

Gregory Characklis, PhD, Director, Center on Financial Risk in Environmental Systems
William R. Kenan Jr. Distinguished Professor, Department of Environmental Sciences and Engineering

139 Rosenau Hall
CB #7431
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-7431
(919) 843-5545