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THERMOS (Thermal Energy Resource Modelling and Optimisation System)

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - THERMOS (THERMOS (Thermal Energy Resource Modelling and Optimisation System))

Reporting period: 2020-07-01 to 2021-03-31

Local district heating and cooling (i.e. thermal) networks can help deliver on all the EU overarching energy objectives and targets – contributing towards carbon reduction targets, renewable energy targets and goals of energy affordability and security. Local municipal authorities have an important role in this respect since they are largely responsible for identifying, planning and making new networks happen. It is therefore important to develop tools with sufficient local detail to be meaningful and effective – and to ensure they are user friendly and easy to deploy at a local (e.g. municipality) level where internal resources are often limited.

THERMOS (Thermal Energy Resource Modelling and Optimisation System) aims to address this need by developing the methods, data, and tools to enable public authorities and other stakeholders to undertake more sophisticated thermal energy system planning far more rapidly and cheaply than they can today. This will amplify and accelerate the development of new low carbon heating and cooling systems across Europe, and enable faster upgrade, refurbishment and expansion of existing systems. This approach will reduce planning costs, speeding up the lengthy processes currently associated with building and upgrading thermal networks. It will also allow national and regional planning to be based upon the same high-resolution energy system data as local project development processes.

THERMOS has been developed in collaboration with four ‘Pilot City’ local authorities (Granollers, London Borough of Islington, Jelgava and Warsaw) and four additional ‘Replication City’ authorities (Greater London Authority, Berlin, Alba Iulia and Cascais) to ensure the outputs are robust, validated and fit for purpose. UK partner Centre for Sustainable Energy coordinated the project with support from Spanish partner Creara. Additional technical or general support was provided by Aalborg University, the German Energy Agency (Dena), the Polish National Energy Conservation Agency (KAPE), the Latvian Environmental Investment Fund (LEIF) and Imperial College, London. A project Advisory Board was also convened comprising four experts from the decentralised energy and district heating sector.
The project began with research into the framework conditions needed in each Pilot/Replication city prior to the adoption of THERMOS, with each city establishing a Local Stakeholder Liaison Group to ensure bottom-up support and needs-based appliance of the THERMOS model. Research and literature reviews were then carried out to identify best practice in energy systems mapping and modelling techniques and tools. A draft methodology was then developed for high resolution energy systems mapping together with an outline of the initial software application design. An initial scoping exercise to identify and access relevant energy datasets from each Pilot City was also undertaken. The models developed were then refined and translated into the THERMOS application software, which was developed in eight staged versions and tested by means of a series of ‘Agile’ feedback workshops with THERMOS partners. Additionally, specifications for thermal and electrical energy system optimisation models were developed in order to incorporate network optimisation algorithms within the software.

The final version of the software is freely available online and incorporates an instant webmap ‘service’ for users to rapidly construct their own customised energy system maps covering their location of interest with the option to incorporate local data, which can be uploaded through a GIS data upload facility. This offers the advantage of user-defined webmaps at a range of scales which can easily be updated or modified. The base data that the tool uses to construct these maps is automatically drawn from OpenStreetMap and LiDAR data (where available) which the tool uses to map building polygons, calculated heat demand and potential network routes. Once a webmap has been generated, the user can create heat network scenarios and run the network optimisation algorithm to assess the best network options. The tool also features a cooling model and energy supply optimisation options within a user-friendly interface.

Engagement of energy planning stakeholders within the THERMOS cities and beyond was encouraged through extensive dissemination and awareness-raising activities including a 4-part Train-the-Trainer Programme and formation of a City Interest and Ambassador Group. Publicity activities included the launch of the THERMOS website, publication of newsletters, development of the THERMOS brand and production of promotional materials. THERMOS has also been demonstrated at many conferences/events across partner countries and beyond, including three European and eight national THERMOS ‘Inspire’ events. A strategy for post-project exploitation of THERMOS was set out in the THERMOS Sustainable Adoption Roadmap which was supported by a Business Plan, Partner Exploitation Agreement and THERMOS Replication Guide.
THERMOS is providing accessible sophisticated new energy system mapping methodologies, software and associated modelling tools that empower and enable public authorities and other stakeholders to plan for heating and cooling systems and undertake prefeasibility studies significantly more quickly, efficiently and cost effectively. This will result in multiple environmental and socio-economic benefits at the local citywide level whilst contributing to strategic sustainable energy targets at the broader national/international level.

The innovative open-source web-based software solution surpasses the tools that were previously offered in this field, including commercial energy system mapping and modelling applications. THERMOS incorporates novel algorithms for identifying optimal thermal energy system configurations and produces state-of-the-art thermal energy maps using address-level demand/supply modelling with consistent geospatial data structures and a flexible data upload facility to facilitate cross-border use. Its ambition is to set a new state-of-the-art European standard which can be widely adopted by energy planners.

The extensive trial and testing phase of the tool through a series of ‘Agile’ workshops with technical experts and local authority representatives from the THERMOS cities and other stakeholders has ensured that the tool is fit for purpose and the practicalities of implementation are properly addressed. An innovative city ‘twinning’ process between the Pilot and Replication Cities resulted in peer-to-peer sharing of experiences in adopting THERMOS, thus ensuring a robust dissemination phase of Train-the-Trainer certification and capacity-building within public authorities and wider stakeholders across Europe.

With the project completed, THERMOS is now benefitting from the strategic plans put in place to disseminate the tool and maximise its impacts within key target groups during the three years beyond the project end. In particular the project partners and THERMOS Ambassadors continue to promote the tool widely, resulting in over 1,500 registered users as of May 2021. This is helping to ensure that the project’s longer term ambitions are realised and that sufficient momentum is achieved for THERMOS to leave a lasting legacy in tackling the challenge of sustainable heat and cooling integration within local area energy planning.
THERMOS partners at project meeting in Cascais, Portugal, May 2019
THERMOS Tool screenshot