Integrated Multi-Energy Systems

Integrated energy systems are investigated at Empa both in theory, i.e. based on computer simulations and models, and practical experiments. Various factors are crucial for a sustainable energy concept in a building complex or neighborhood: the building’s energy consumption itself and its possible optimization, such as through the use of a new insulating material; the microclimate around the building; the potential for harvesting, converting, storing and transporting renewable energies; and the integration of sustainable mobility. Modeling these general multi-energy systems is of paramount importance here.

“Energy hubs” are energy networks at neighborhood level. The aim is to provide fresh insights into how a larger area’s electricity, cooling and heating needs can be met. Energy flows in the mobility and leisure sector are coupled and the technical and economic boundaries determined. Moreover, gas, heating/cooling and electricity grids are operated jointly. Such a combined network can absorb energy, and store, convert and re-release it again as and when needed. Empa studies and researches energy hubs. It carries out computer simulations and modeling and operates initial networks in a realistic environment – such as in the demonstrator NEST with an integrated energy hub, which facilitates a dynamic combination of different energy sources and storage possibilities through different conversion paths for both the building and mobility sectors.