Reviewing local and integrated energy system models: insights into flexibility and robustness challenges

Febin Kachirayil*, Jann Michael Weinand, Fabian Scheller, Russell McKenna

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


The electrification of heating, cooling, and transportation to reach decarbonization targets calls for a rapid expansion of renewable technologies. Due to their decentral and intermittent nature, these technologies require robust planning that considers non-technical constraints and flexibility options to be integrated effectively. Energy system models (ESMs) are frequently used to support decision-makers in this planning process. In this study, 116 case studies of local, integrated ESMs are systematically reviewed to identify best-practice approaches to model flexibility and address non-technical constraints. Within the sample, storage systems and sector coupling are the most common types of flexibility. Sector coupling with the transportation sector is rarely considered, specifically with electric vehicles even though they could be used for smart charging or vehicle-to-grid operation. Social aspects are generally either completely neglected or modeled exogenously. Lacking actor heterogeneity, which can lead to unstable results in optimization models, can be addressed through building-level information. A strong emphasis on cost is found and while emissions are also frequently reported, additional metrics such as imports or the share of renewable generation are nearly entirely absent. To guide future modeling, the paper concludes with a roadmap highlighting flexibility and robustness options that either represent low-hanging fruit or have a large impact on results.

Original languageEnglish
Article number119666
Number of pages14
JournalApplied Energy
Early online date21 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2022


  • Actor heterogeneity
  • Demand-side management
  • Electric vehicles
  • Energy system optimization models
  • Sector coupling
  • Social acceptance


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