INTUBE - heat trading simulation tool

The heat trading simulation tool has been developed to address energy distribution at a district level. Although such an approach has already been thoroughly investigated in the case of electricity, limited attention has been paid to its application to heating networks. To achieve a global neighbourhood management system framework, by including new business models as well as novel software tools, an innovative “heat trading” concept was proposed.

It is established that within traditional district networks, a unique plant produces heat and distributes it through a network of pipes to some consumer buildings. Assuming that a single building (or a group of buildings) is equipped with a micro combined heat and power generation unit, trading an excess of locally generated heat becomes possible with other neighbouring buildings or even a district heating plant. The core of the trading concept is thus based on the possibility of exchanging energy between several buildings via the district network.

The simulation tool that has been developed within the IntUBE project, aims to:

  • simulate heat trading within virtual district heating networks, and
  • assess its possible impacts on both energy and cost savings.

To fulfill this twofold requirement, the main constitutive functionalities of the software should allow users to:

  • carry out the neighbourhood modelling as well as its district heating network,
  • simulate the heat flows and the performance of the heating network,
  • analyse several scenarios and demonstrate the trading concepts,
  • assess the impact of the results in relation with (i) the minimization of energy supply vulnerability, (ii) the enhancement of multi-source energy flows, (ii) the reduction of distribution losses, and (iv) energy, money and CO2 savings.

The trading simulation tool can be connected to already existing simulation tools (such as SUNTOOL or TRNSYS) so as to compute both the energy demand of buildings and the production of micro combined heat and power generation units.

This approach should allow stakeholders within a district, to move from the traditional single large scale producer schema to a new multiple scale producers’ schema. Traditional consumer buildings which are equipped with local energy heating generators (micro combined heat and power generation unit), become producers or “pro-sumers”.  In the end, this new type of market aims to establish a win-win situation between operators, producers and consumers.


IntUBE final report