The Project Plan

Work packages

1Technical coordination and project management
The PlaMES consortium comprises universities, an SME and research organisation from two EU countries and one industry partner from Turkey, associated to the H2020 framework programme, with the ultimate goal to develop an integrated planning tool for multi-energy systems on a European scale. The project is led by the Institute for High Voltage Technology, RWTH Aachen University and assisted in day-to-day project management by the RWTH’s EU Project Management Team. The objective of this work package is to ensure a proper implementation of this research and innovation action, by establishing clear decision-making processes and effective means of communication. The technical coordination focusses on monitoring and supervision of all ongoing research activities and the assessment of results. Special focus will be laid on the progress of work and the coordination of the technical, collaborative work between all work packages and partners. Administrative, financial and contractual management on a day-to-day basis ensures the execution of all tasks. Continuous monitoring of the action allows consistent reporting to the European Commission and the INEA.

2Conceptual development of the PlaMES methodology
The main objective is the development of an overall concept for the multi-energy expansion planning method. This includes the definition of two use cases to show the relevance and adequacy of the tool developed in WP3 (prototype development of the PlaMES tool). In a first step, the general scenario framework is defined, consisting of external parameters (e.g. fuel prices, development of energy demands, etc.) and pre-defined constraints (e.g. maximum permitted CO2 emission). After that, the modelling requirements for a holistic planning of future energy systems will be defined. Based on these requirements, the mathematical formulation of the multi-energy expansion planning tool will be described. In order to cope with the complexity of the problem, an analysis of the defined mathematical problem will be done to identify the problem structure. This leads to a first conceptual development of how to solve the problem. As a result, the most efficient use of optimisation techniques and decomposition approaches will be derived to create an integrated modelling concept.
3Prototype development of the PlaMES tool
The development and implementation of an integrated, cross-sectoral, technological and infrastructural planning tool for future energy systems is the common objective. The focus is set on the coupled generation and grid expansion planning as well as the consideration of energy sector coupling between electricity, heat, gas and mobility sectors. A prototype of the tool relating to the mathematical formulation of the optimisation problem is implemented. For that purpose, the problem is separated into two optimisation stages with increasing level of detail concerning the regional resolution, namely a first stage optimisation on central level (overlaying energy supply structures and transmission grid) and a second stage optimisation with a more detailed planning of distributed energy supply systems within selected regions (distributed energy supply structures and distribution grid). Initially, the European energy system is planned considering multiple energy sectors and transmission grid constraints. In countries where transmission grid data as well as demand data on electricity, heat and mobility and meteorological data is available in a regional resolution, the country is divided into sub regions and planned in higher level of detail. In countries where regional resolved data is not available, technologies within the country are modelled in a more aggregated way. For selected countries or regions within a country, the regional results of the first stage planning tool are further broken down and planned in higher granularity. If there are any problems on distributed level (e.g. solution from first stage is technically not feasible, or a feasible solution can just be achieved with very high costs) than a feedback shall be given to the first stage planning tool and input parameters have to be changed or additional limitations have to be added. These optimisation stages are again separated into generation and grid subproblems. Each subproblem describes specific aspects of the energy system in high granularity. In the first stage optimisation, also distributed technologies will be considered in a simplified, more aggregated way. Finally, all subproblems are merged and coordinated by submodels’ merger and consolidation. A modular high-performance cluster can be used for massively parallel execution of subproblems. All subproblems together give an integrated and holistic view on the planning of the whole energy system. The development and prototype implementation of the expansion planning tool is closely coordinated with WP 4 concerning the development of solving algorithms.
4Development of solution methods
The focus of this work package is the definition of efficient procedures for the solution of the mathematical models developed in the previous work packages, building on the valuable experience of the operations research group at DEI of University of Bologna in the exact and approximate solution of hard optimisation problems arising in real world applications. The models to be faced during the project are likely to be of very large size, as they may be intended to consider a time discretisation with up to the hour granularity for an one year planning period, which implies millions (or even hundreds of millions) of variables and constraints. As a consequence, the research in this work package will necessarily go in the direction of detecting effective decomposition techniques that allow to define smaller subproblems that can efficiently be solved in practice using linear programming or integer linear programming techniques. Furthermore, the models may incorporate non-linearities and stochastic components associated with the specific real-world scenarios to be optimised, which in turn need to be handled efficiently within the solution methods through specific relaxations and linearisation. The overall result will be an iterative approach for which appropriate convergence schemes have to be developed. Accordingly, the following tasks will be completed:

  • Subproblems solution algorithms: Solution of subproblems using linear programming or mixed-integer linear (and nonlinear) programming algorithms.
  • Global framework design: Design of global algorithms for multipliers updating in a decomposition scheme.
  • Solution method consistency with energy physics: verification of the validity of the solutions provided by the optimization algorithms with respect to the energy physics.
5Evaluation and final PlaMES tool development
The PlaMES tool will be engineered in a user-friendly fashion based on the model architecture defined in WP3 and the operation research methodologies identified in WP 4. These are necessary to effectively tackle, in terms of time and accuracy, the so defined challenging optimisation problem. In this way, the tool will be ready to support the test campaign allowing a smooth validation and tuning according to the findings of the application and validation of the tool. A handbook providing guidelines how to use the developed PlaMES tool will be created as well. Test application: The prototype of the PlaMES tool will be applied to a test case and will be validated and adjusted accordingly to identify shortcomings, improve and generalize the outcome. Therefore, the tool will be flexible enough to be adapted to diverse test cases. Final development phase: the PlaMES tool will be finally developed in a modular way as Decision Support System. It will enable governments, from regional up to EU level, jointly with Transmission and Distribution System Operators as well as Multi-utilities, to better plan the development of integrated energy infrastructures. Hence, it will help to guarantee a more reliable and effective generation, transmission and distribution of electric energy, jointly with thermal/cooling consumption, vehicles (electric and green fuel fed) and natural gas grid. The PlaMES tool will have to be able to manage a set of input, such as:
    • the existing generation units and generator clusters, and their performance curve;
      the existing transmission and distribution grid characteristics;
      the availability of Renewable Energy Sources, current and condition availability for future extension;
      a web Geographic Information System (GIS) bringing topological data about consumptions;
      the past figures of price of electricity, heat and natural gas both, purchasing and selling;
      the political framework, necessary for future planning, including climate goals such as CO2 emission limits and minimum share of renewable energies;
      the utilities demand past figures.

  • Several levels of integration from light to full Integration counting solutions such as power-to-gas units capable to convert excesses of electric energy into hydrogen, manageable by the gas grid to a certain share, and further into synthetic methane via extra steps, which imply further energy consumption and the need of carbon dioxide. Electric energy storage units’ impact could also be evaluated, from electro-chemical to thermo-mechanical as well as virtual loads derived by consumption (compression chillers or heat pumps) or generation (micro-co-generators) clustering. Looking at large-scale units also combined heat and power including waste heat recovery could be assessed, looking also at thermal storage integration into district heating networks; the same could be done at cooling level. District cooling and heating will be clustered as concentrated consumer and different temperatures will be taken into account. Finally, also non-technical constraints, related to political or social aspects will be taken into account via scenarios assessment. Main driver will be the economic efficiency. The objective function selection will be focused on strategic design in order to assess the best options depending also on the affordable investments. In parallel, carbon footprint with CO2 limitations and renewable energy shares will be provided as to allow the decision makers to decide on the best compromise. The Mixed Integer Non-Linear Problem identified will be embedded in the tool and solved within a reasonable time and accuracy suitable for industrial applications using the solution methods.
    6Application and validation of the PlaMES tool
    The application and validation will demonstrate the adequacy of the PlaMES tool to the needs of different actors:
    • Technology providers
    • TSOs, DSOs and Utilities
    • Energy service providers
    • National policy makers including regulators, research institutions and communities

    • First, a validation of the tool will be carried out comprising a comparison to the tool’s result with the benchmark results calculated with of a non-decomposed optimisation problem. The holistic planning tool’s results will also be compared to the results calculated with separated planning tools for grid and generation expansion. These results will be crucial for evaluating the performance of the developed tool and its added value compared to the current, segmented planning approaches.

      Finally, the application of the PlaMES tool to the use cases will be carried out and subsequent sensitivity analyses will provide insights into the relevance of specific input parameters or framework conditions for the planning results. A report on the results of the validation, the use cases and sensitivity analyses will provide a description of the best approach to reduce overall system costs for energy needs (electricity, heat/cooling, gas and transport) fulfilment, while reducing carbon footprint. It will focus on the question, which types of large generation units need to be installed at transmission level or clusters of energy conversion units and storage units at distribution level.

      In addition, it will tackle the question which types of technologies shall be invested in transmission and distribution grids and their interconnection both, with gas infrastructures or with heat local infrastructures/consumption to fulfil heat loads consistently with the temperature they require.
    7Dissemination, Communication and Exploitation activities
    The overall aim of this work package is to inform about the PlaMES project, to raise awareness of the necessity of an integrated planning of multi-energy systems and to increase the visibility of this project by communicating its objectives and results to a broad audience in academia and industry.
    To ensure a continuous execution of the various activities we will spread news about the project to maximising the impact of results to the scientific community, stakeholders and Advisory Board members.
    The consortium will participate in local, regional, national or EU events and conferences. I addition, we will organise specific workshops and events about the project findings for the external Advisory Board and other stakeholders and seek to cluster with other EU funded projects in the field of the energy sector with a similar focus. For the PlaMES method and tool as well as other project results, we will prepare exploitation activities to reach the market and maintain an IPR register of the consortium.
    Moreover, we will contribute, upon invitation by the INEA, to common information and dissemination activities to increase the visibility and synergies between H2020 supported actions.
    8Ethics requirements
    To ensure that the project meets the ethics requirements the project coordinator assess if the involvement of humans, the protection of personal data (according to the EU General Data Protection Regulation), and the research activities undertaken in non-European countries meet the standards and requirements of the European Union.