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Optimal design of CHP-based microgrids: Multiobjective optimisation and life cycle assessment

Zhang, Di, Evangelisti, Sara, Lettieri, Paola, Papageorgiou, Lazaros G.
Energy 2015 v.85 pp. 181-193
economic sustainability, energy, energy resources, environmental impact, fuel cells, gas emissions, heat, life cycle assessment, models
As an alternative to current centralised energy generation systems, microgrids are adopted to provide local energy with lower energy expenses and gas emissions by utilising distributed energy resources (DER). Several micro combined heat and power technologies have been developed recently for applications at domestic scale. The optimal design of DERs within CHP-based microgrids plays an important role in promoting the penetration of microgrid systems. In this work, the optimal design of microgrids with CHP units is addressed by coupling environmental and economic sustainability in a multi-objective optimisation model which integrates the results of a life cycle assessment of the microgrids investigated. The results show that the installation of multiple CHP technologies has a lower cost with higher environmental saving compared with the case when only a single technology is installed in each site, meaning that the microgrid works in a more efficient way when multiple technologies are selected. In general, proton exchange membrane (PEM) fuel cells are chosen as the basic CHP technology for most solutions, which offers lower environmental impacts at low cost. However, internal combustions engines (ICE) and Stirling engines (SE) are preferred if the heat demand is high.