City OASIS – Optimally Adapted Solutions for Integrated urban energy Systems
One of the most significant areas for improvement in the context of climate change is the transformation of centralised, mono-functional and fossil-based energy systems towards decentralised, integrated and renewable-based energy systems. This is especially important for cities or urban energy systems which represent around half of all energy use and carbon emissions. At the same time, cities offer an enormous potential for realizing climate protecting measures by the integration of services such as energy, mobility, waste and water. Prominent examples are cogeneration of electricity and heat, the integration of electric vehicles into the grid or the conversion of excess (renewable) power to gaseous fuels that can be used for mobility, for example. In addition, smart energy management technologies are currently intensively investigated to provide the necessary information and communication infrastructure (“smart cities”).
As providers of all those services, municipal utility companies are the key actors for the development and implementation of innovative urban solutions. However, in practice this role also entails considerable difficulties for the utility companies. In particular, the increasingly complex relationships and interdependencies between the manifold involved technologies need to be assessed to find out how they can be combined optimally. At the same time, ecological as well as economic conditions and political targets have to be taken into account. Still unanswered questions are for example:
- Which role do the individual technologies take ideally in an integrated system? For example is it ecologically better to build a “power to gas” facility to store renewable energy and make it available as fuel for cars or to invest in grid extension and infrastructure for electric vehicles?
- What are the corresponding business models to make those systems also economically viable? For example can enough money be earned by offering minute reserve from a virtual power plant? What is an appropriate pricing strategy for power from renewable sources?
- How should the transformation happen over time? For example when is the best point in time to substitute an old (fossil) power plant by a new (renewable) technology?
To approach these questions, there is the strong need for a method offering a holistic energy and climate vision of a specific urban area and supporting the local decision makers to design integrated, renewable-based and climate-friendly urban energy systems.
Goal of this Project
This project focuses on developing a comprehensive, optimization-based design method. The method will take into account individual technologies and services (“building blocks”) as well as ecological, economical and political conditions as inputs for the derivation of highly-integrated urban energy systems. By applying mathematical optimization algorithms it will be possible to investigate hundreds and thousands of possible design alternatives to identify an optimal solution for the decision makers. Apart from energy-related technologies, the method will also consider and evaluate the role of mobility needs. The method will be implemented into a (preliminary) software tool to transfer the results into applications.