Integrated Community Energy Systems
Abstract: Energy systems across the globe are going through a radical transformation as a result of technological and institutional changes, depletion of fossil fuel resources, and climate change. Accordingly, local energy initiatives are emerging and increasing number of the business models are focusing on the end-users. This requires the present centralized energy systems to be re-organized. In this context, Integrated community energy systems (ICESs) are emerging as a modern development to re-organize local energy systems allowing simultaneous integration of distributed energy resources (DERs) and engagement of local communities. With the emergence of ICESs new roles and responsibilities as well as interactions and dynamics are expected in the energy system. Although local energy initiatives such as ICESs are rapidly emerging due to community objectives, such as cost and emission reductions as well as resiliency, assessment and evaluation of the value that these systems can provide to both local communities and the whole energy system are still lacking. The value of ICESs is also impacted by the institutional settings internal and external to the system. With this background, this thesis aims to understand the ways in which ICESs can contribute to enhancing the energy transition.This thesis utilizes a conceptual framework consisting of institutional and societal levels in order to understand the interaction and dynamics of ICESs implementation. Current energy trends and the associated technological, socio-economic, environmental and institutional issues are reviewed. The developed ICES model performs optimal planning and operation of ICESs and assesses their performance based on economic and environmental metrics. For the considered community size and local conditions, grid-connected ICESs are already beneficial to the alternative of solely being supplied from the grid, both in terms of total energy costs and CO2 emissions, whereas grid-defected systems, although performing very well in terms of CO2 emissions reduction, are still rather expensive. ICESs ensure self-provision of energy and can provide essential system services to the larger energy system. This thesis has demonstrated the added value of ICESs to the individual households, local communities and the society. A comprehensive institutional design considering techno-economic and institutional perspectives is necessary to ensure effective contribution of ICESs in the energy transition.
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