A Toolbox for Optimal Control of Multiple Energy Sources in Buildings

WP2: Building Energy Management

Building energy management is an active research field, and has the potential for substantial energy savings. However, the opportunities for large savings within single buildings can be limited by the flexibility of the installed climate control devices and the individual construction characteristics. These limitations can be overcome by establishing cooperative energy facility sharing facilities, ‘Energy-Hubs’.  The Energy-Hub concept enables the management of a group of buildings in a cooperative manner by providing opportunities for load shifting between them as well as the sharing of energy efficient (but expensive) equipment, such as heat pumps, boilers and batteries, housed in the hub.

In order to optimize the potential flexibility provided by the interconnected systems, an Energy-Hub Component Modelling (EHCM) Toolbox was developed, as a unified framework for controlling the operation of the Energy-Hub and the connected buildings. The EHCM Toolbox uses simplified modelling techniques and modular models built-up from libraries of commonly used component descriptions in order to foster the adoption of more advanced building control methods.

Cooperative energy management within buildings and districts by the way of urban Energy-Hubs must however be considered in the presence of operational uncertainties, such as user behaviour and weather conditions. An optimal control architecture has been outlined and is supported by identification-based models for the handling of multiple energy sources.

The Energy-Hub Component Modelling (EHCM) Toolbox provides the basic model components for analysing the control and operation of Energy Hubs. The Toolbox was designed using object-oriented programming: all toolbox classes inherit the class of the ‘basic structure’ of the Energy-Hub model, enabling an automated interconnection of the different components for the formulation of the optimization problem. The use of simplified modelling techniques, as well as modular models issued from libraries of Energy-Hub components, should foster the elaboration of prototype software for cooperative energy management within buildings and districts. Case studies, provided by the industrial partner Siemens BT, were used for simulation and validation of the software.

Cooperative Energy Management (Heating, Cooling and Electrical Appliances) involving multiple Energy Sources and Buildings


For more details, please contact Prof. Roy Smith, ETH Zurich.