Blog #14

Optimal operation of multi-carrier local energy communities by implementing the energy hub concept

Authors: L. Loizou, C. Papadimitriou, V. Efthymiou
Research Centre for Sustainable Energy – FOSS

Integration of different energy infrastructures, or carriers, can offer several benefits such as better management of energy sources, higher efficiency and reduction of waste as well as a higher share of renewables. This could result to multiple advantages compared to the conventional electricity grid such as an improvement of energy security, a decreased environmental impact and a reduction of energy costs. The eNeuron ((GreeN Energy HUbs for Local IntegRated Energy COmmunities optimisatioN)) project intends to develop innovative solutions for the best design and performance of local energy communities, integrating distributed energy resources and multiple energy carriers at different levels under the energy hub concept.


The state-of-the-art tools will be developed, by having in mind all the potential benefits achievable for the different actors involved and by promoting the Energy Hub concept, as a conceptual model for controlling and managing multi-carrier and integrated energy systems in order to optimize their architecture and operation. The eNeuron project aims to develop these tools that will ultimately allow the optimal design and operation of local energy communities (LECs) by integrating distributed energy resources and multiple energy carriers at different scales. In order to ensure both the short-term and the long-term sustainability of this new energy paradigm and thus support an effective implementation and deployment, economic and environmental aspects will be taken into account in the optimization tools through a multi-objective approach.


The proposed method will enable tangible sustainability and energy security benefits for all the stakeholders in the LEC. Local prosumers (households, commercial and industrial actors) stand to benefit through the reduction of energy costs while leveraging local, low carbon energy. Developers and solution providers will find new opportunities for technologies as part of an integrated, replicable operational business model. Distribution system operators (DSOs) benefit from avoiding grid congestion and deferring network investments. Policy makers benefit from increasingly sustainable and secure energy supply systems. Through eNeuron, which is a high TRL project, innovative approaches and methodologies will be proposed to optimally plan and operate integrated LECs through the optimal selection and use of multiple energy carriers and by considering both short- and long-run priorities. Table 1 shows a list of technologies and services that will be deployed through eNeuron.
Table 1. Technologies and services deployed through eNeuron.

Technical description and implementation

The innovative methods will be developed in the form of a cloud-based tool with a web-based user interface for the long-term design optimisation of multi-carrier local integrated energy systems, aiming at identifying the optimal architecture of such systems, in terms of optimised configuration alternatives through a multi-objective approach to account for both technical, economic and the environmental priorities / objectives. The tool developed through eNeuron plans to deal with the optimal long term and short term (e.g. daily) operation of the integrated systems through a stochastic approach and the simulation of peer-to-peer energy trading to investigate the feasibility and convenience of the optimised scheduling strategies from the prosumers point of view in a local real time market employing block chain technology. Thus, two layers of optimal operation is created (the centralized optimized operation and the distributed one) that complement each other and secure a win-win situation for all parties within the community. This integrated approach will allow offering a set of functionalities for LEC (e.g. minimizing CAPEX through optimal investments on RES and other assets), operators (e.g. local congestion management) and prosumers (e.g. activate demand response and energy sharing). The technical solutions developed will be put to the test at four pilot sites in Europe: a city and its major energy nodes (Bydgozecz, Poland), a football stadium and its vicinity (Skagerak, Norway), a naval district with its own distribution grid (Lisbon, Portugal), and a university campus spread over several sites (Ancona, Italy). The ultimate objective is to check the effectiveness of the eNeuron solutions to be replicable and scalable as concept and solution ready to be adapted to different local contexts in Europe.
The solution proposes the Energy Hub as the main architectural and operational solution for coupling multiple energy carriers. Inherent flexibility of energy hubs allows introducing the concept of micro-energy hub representing the prosumer (industrial, commercial or residential) within the community. Under this assumption, each micro-energy hub will represent an integrated energy system consisting of multi-energy generation, conversion and storage technologies to satisfy its own energy needs. In the eNeuron LEC, micro-energy hubs cooperate by sharing all energy carriers, with the aim to satisfy the energy needs of the entire local community represented by the Energy Hub. Community generation, and community storage systems are also involved through dedicated community energy management systems. The Energy Hub promotes local balancing as well as strategic exchanges with electrical external grids through coordination of exchange. In this way, the energy hub will always have interactions with larger systems, sustaining access to the largest pool of external resources possible, while leaving open the possibility of local resource optimization and provision of services to other hubs or the bulk system. The system as a whole will allow synergies between different sectors such as electricity, heat, cooling and transport (electric and hydrogen) as well as between different technologies. The interactions among micro-energy hubs within the LEC and with the larger system under the concept proposed through eNeuron are shown in Figure 1.
Figure 1. Interactions among micro-energy hubs within the LEC and with the larger system under eNeuron concept.


A summary of the impacts that the proposed solution aims to achieve is listed below:

Replicability: Focuses on technology demonstration, as well as on the market viability and the replicability of the developed tools and the targeted subcomponents (products and services).

Socio-economics: Aims to empower European citizens to consume energy more responsibly and at lower prices, while engaging them in the context of LEC by contributing to energy savings and providing flexibility to the grids.

Environment: Considers the environmental priority in terms of reduction of CO2 emissions, thereby ensuring the long-run sustainability of this new energy paradigm, through the multi-objective approach proposed for the optimal design of the integrated LEC.

Market Transformation and Policy: Proposes new business models based on the LEC concept aligned with the pilots’ needs.