This work focuses on a multi-scale framework for the design and comparison of low-carbon heat generation solutions to serve the residential and commercial thermal energy demand of high energy density urban areas. The adopted methodology assesses the cost and performance of four configurations integrated in a district heating network: (i) centralised cogeneration with gas turbine and bottoming steam turbine with flexible heat-to-electricity ratio; (ii) centralised cogeneration with gas-fired internal combustion engine; (iii) distributed building-integrated ground-source heat pumps for domestic hot water only; and (iv) distributed building-integrated ground-source heat pumps for both domestic hot water and space heating. Cost and performance data were obtained by conducting relevant market research and developing a simplified heat pump thermodynamic model. The different configurations are evaluated utilizing whole-year space heating and hot water demand profiles for the Isle of Dogs area in East London, UK. Scale effects are included by considering various technology size scenarios and the results indicate that a 50 MW centralised internal combustion cogeneration system appears to be the most profitable option, while the competitiveness of building-integrated heat pumps is dependent on their size.
Keywords combined heat and power, distributed energy, district heating, heat pumps, urban energy systems