Attention on decentralised autonomous energy systems has increased exponentially in the past three decades, as demonstrated by the absolute number of real-world projects and the share of publications in the corpus of scientific literature. This is due to the energy transition and the related environmental awareness as well as the desire of citizens to play an active role in energy supply and to be less dependent on central markets and structures. However, local decision-makers, who often lack the necessary expertise, need decision support in energy system planning. To this end, this thesis follows the objective to develop novel methods for the technical, economic and environmental assessment of a large number of completely energy autonomous municipalities and their impacts on the overall energy system. Completely energy autonomous municipalities are disconnected from the gas and electricity grid and supply themselves with energy from plants owned and operated by the municipality.
Novel methods of energy system analysis were developed in this thesis as part of seven original research articles. Germany is used as a case study, but the general approach, methods and results are transferable to other contexts. ... mehrFirst of all, the 11,131 German municipalities were clustered with regard to their suitability for decentralised energy systems. Based on this municipality typology, representative municipalities were selected to be investigated in an already existing holistic municipal energy system optimisation model (RE³ASON). This model was extended by novel and transferable approaches to design deep geothermal plants and district heating networks. These base-load capable technologies were selected to reduce the storage costs in energy autonomous municipalities. The technical feasibility and economic expenditures of energy autonomy could finally be determined in all 11,131 German municipalities by combining the extended energy system optimisation model with a stepwise linear regression.
The energy system optimisations showed that in the case of complete energy autonomy, deep geothermal plants in combination with district heating networks could reduce the total costs by up to 50%. On average, the energy system costs until 2030 in German municipalities increase by about 0.41 €/kWh in the energy autonomous case compared to the optimised reference case with grid connection. While a technical potential to achieve energy autonomy is present in 56% of the German municipalities, there seem to be no economic advantages through energy autonomy compared to the optimised reference energy system. The novel methodological approach of this thesis enabled to obtain optimisation results for a high number of energy systems (6,314 municipalities) with practicable computational expenses. In addition to the original data and planning tools published alongside the articles, the findings of this thesis can also support local decision makers in determining suitable municipal energy systems.
In order to increase the realizability of the case study results, some methodological extensions should be investigated in future studies such as other perspectives than that of a central planner, higher temporal model resolutions or social aspects like consumer acceptance of specific technologies or a security of supply below 100%.