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THERMOS (Thermal Energy Resource Modelling and Optimisation System)

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - THERMOS (THERMOS (Thermal Energy Resource Modelling and Optimisation System))

Reporting period: 2018-04-01 to 2019-06-30

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 is being 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 is coordinating the project with support from Spanish partner Creara. Additional technical or general support is being provided by Aalborg University, the German Energy Agency (Dena), the Polish National Energy Conservation Agency (KAPE) and Imperial College. A project Advisory Board has also been 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 mapping methodology and heat demand model were then refined and translated into the THERMOS application software, which is being developed in seven 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 latest version of the software as of August 2019 (version 5) incorporates an instant webmap ‘service’ for users to rapidly construct their own customised energy system maps covering their location of interest and supplemented by their own 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, heat demand and potential network routes. Once a webmap has been generated, the user can create heat network scenarios by nominating heat supplies and demands within groups of buildings before reviewing the default financial inputs and running the network optimisation algorithm to assess the best options. On-going work involves implementing additional features following consultation with the THERMOS partners.

Engagement of energy planning stakeholders during the run-up to deployment of the THERMOS application within the cities has been encouraged through extensive dissemination and awareness-raising activities including a Train-the-Trainer Programme and formation of a City Interest and Ambassador Group for the final year of the project. Publicity activities to date also include the launch of the THERMOS website, publication of newsletters, development of the THERMOS brand and production of promotional materials. THERMOS has also been presented at a number of conferences/events across partner countries, including two European and several national THERMOS ‘Inspire’ events. A strategy for post-project exploitation of THERMOS is also being drawn up with support from the Advisory Board.
Ultimately, THERMOS will provide 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 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 software solution being developed is surpassing the tools that are currently 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 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 project also includes an 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 to ensure their needs and the practicalities of implementation are properly addressed. An innovative city ‘twinning’ process between the Pilot and Replication Cities is resulting 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.

Three years into the project, THERMOS is now fully implementing its dissemination, communication and exploitation plan in order to maximise impacts within key target groups. The THERMOS partners, with support from the project's Advisory Board, are now stepping up these activities and are embarking on the final phase of the THERMOS Capacity Building and certified Training Programme in addition to recruiting for the City Interest and Ambassador Group. These will help to ensure that the project’s ambitions are realised and that sufficient momentum is achieved to leave a lasting legacy beyond the end of the project in June 2020.
THERMOS Tool screenshot
THERMOS partners at project meeting in Cascais, Portugal, May 2019