Multi criteria decision making frameworks to aid selection of: demand assessment methods; low and zero carbon technology assessment methods; and modelling tools; for community energy system development

Rights statement
Awarding institution
  • University of Strathclyde
Date of award
  • 2020
Thesis identifier
  • T16518
Person Identifier (Local)
  • 201590346
Qualification Level
Qualification Name
Department, School or Faculty
  • At the concept design stage for a Community Energy System (CES), modelling is required to assess the best possible solution(s) to be taken forward to detailed design stage. This modelling requires inputs on energy demands and Low and Zero Carbon Technologies (LZCTs) to be considered. Several methods exist to generate these modelling inputs; however, these vary greatly and there is generally an ad-hoc rather than a formalised approach used to select the most appropriate to use for a given case study. Modelling tool(s) must be selected to accept these inputs, carry out analyses, and support generation of outputs to inform the concept design stage for the CES. There are many modelling tools for use at concept design stage which vary in quality, capability, resource requirement and relevance; again, there is generally an ad-hoc rather than formalised approach used to select the most appropriate tools(s) to use for a given case study. The gap targeted in this research is this lack of a well-defined process for selecting appropriate methods for planning or concept design stage modelling. The aim of this research is to address this gap through the application of formal Multi-Criteria-Decision-Making (MCDM) techniques. The research question asked was whether formal MCDM techniques could be adapted to usefully address these gaps. The methodology followed was first to elaborate the gaps more fully, investigate formal (MCDM) methods to identify suitable candidates, then to propose and develop frameworks to inform selection of: (i) methods to be used to assess energy demands, (ii) methods to be used to assess appropriate LZCTs to be considered, and (iii) appropriate modelling tools to be used, for the concept design stage of a CES development. These frameworks were then tested through application to case studies and their effectiveness assessed. First the current state of the art is reviewed in developing concept designs for Community or District Scale Energy Systems and the problem of method selection elaborated. Next, the state of the art in MCDM techniques are reviewed including techniques for selecting appropriate MCDMs and two candidate MCDMs identified as having potential; these are: Simple Multi Attribute Rating Technique Exploiting Ranking (SMARTER); and, Commercial off the Shelf Software Selection Process (COTSSSP). These 2 methods are then taken forward within the 'hypothesise - develop - test' research methodology. A common framework was then developed based on SMARTER and COTSSSP for selection of: (i) methods to be used to assess energy demands and (ii) methods to be used to assess appropriate LZCTs to be considered. The developed framework employs selection criteria which are ranked, weighted, and scored according to the requirements of the case study, and also screens methods that do not meet minimum requirements. The framework was then demonstrated and evaluated by application to a case study and the findings discussed. A second framework was developed for selection of Modelling Tools. Due to the differentiation provided by the high number of modelling tool attributes available to be considered the framework was based on COTSSSP only. To support the framework individual tool characteristics were categorised. Tools are scored based on technical capabilities, tools without essential capabilities eliminated, and cable tools considered. The framework was then applied to a case study, and the findings discussed. The proposal that frameworks based on formal MCDM methods could usefully inform the methods used at concept design stage was found to be correct, the frameworks were found to provide an ordered and logical process that support selection of best available methods in contrast to current ad-hoc approaches. Application of the developed frameworks and wider consideration of the applicability of MCDM techniques in energy system development will contribute to the realisation of improved CESs and also inform the development of enhanced processes in this area in future. The contribution of this work has been to demonstrate the applicability of formal MCDM methods. The frameworks developed are intended to be further adapted and refined through future applications.
Advisor / supervisor
  • Tuohy, Paul
Resource Type