Sustainable development implies a higher social and environmental responsibility towards the planet and its resources. A shift from traditional forms of energy towards renewable sources and an increase in energy efficiency are central to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all. This transition triggers a high level of decentralization and complex requirements for the planning of energy systems. In particular, the technologies to be examined are being diversified and scaled down, as the trend is moving away from large-scale power plants towards innovative combinations of regenerative and partly decentralized technologies. As the decision options increase and get more closely intertwined, the resulting mathematical models become considerably larger, more complex and, likely, intractable with generic methods and standard solvers.

The working group Sustainable Energy Planning investigates concrete optimization problems in relation to devising sustainable and more efficient energy production portfolios. These problems are often represented by large-scale mixed-integer programs, with potential nonconvexity aspects. Our research interests encompass both innovative modelling techniques as well as custom-tailored solution algorithms. As the scope of assessment goes beyond the economic operating costs of the target portfolios, multiobjective optimization is a relevant research direction to achieve a tradeoff between different – and conflicting – performance criteria such as, the CO­2 emissions and the primary energy factor. Additionally, the evaluation of investment decisions across a long-term planning horizon remains significantly restricted in real life, due to the high level of granularity in time and details with which the optimization problems for plant use have to be solved. This endeavor gives rise to computational challenges and uncertainty-related issues to be addressed through decomposition algorithms and appropriate solution methods.

Our focus spans a range of relevant topics; from the capacity and expansion planning of efficient energy networks over several decades, to the projection of the strategic prospects to the operational decision-making level. We seek to deliver timely solutions in line with the energy transition goals and enhance our methods with a domain-specific knowledge through our close collaboration with industry partners, e.g., from the heating sector.