Publication | Peer reviewed papers | Potentiale, Bioenergiesysteme, Logistik

Intelligent Heat Networks: First Results of an Energy-Information-Cost-Model

Lichtenegger K, Hoeftberger E, Schmidl C, Woess D, Proell T, Halmdienst C

Published September 2017

Citation: Lichtenegger K, Hoeftberger E, Schmidl C, Woess D, Proell T, Halmdienst C. Intelligent Heat Networks: First Results of an Energy-Information-Cost-Model. Sustainable Energy, Grids and Networks. September 2017;11: 1-12.


Integrating additional renewable heat sources into district heating networks can have several beneficial effects, but it also requires more sophisticated control strategies than supply by only one central plant. In this article, we study the integration of prosumers (i.e. buildings which have both the capacity to produce and the need to consume energy, here heat) into heat distribution grids.

This study is performed with a simplified model, based on energy and information flows. The prosumers can act autonomously, based on a price communicated by the central heat plant. This price is determined based on the benefit for the network by additional heat feed-in and is regularly updated. This leads to an interlocking of a physical/technical and an economic feedback loop. The control parameters are optimized by using a stochastic optimization algorithm, based on simulation runs for one typical week in winter, spring and summer.

We compare the results with standard setups (heat network with only consumers, central heat generation and additional heat-producing building disconnected from the grid) and obtain an improvement concerning fuel consumption in most and concerning emissions in many situations. While economic benefits are achieved in most scenarios, it is a non-trivial task to construct a market model that distributes these benefits in a fair way between the central heat plant and the prosumers.

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