Heating and cooling networks: A comprehensive review of modelling approaches to map future directions

Alastair Brown, Aoife Foley, David Laverty, Seán McLoone, Patrick Keatley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Future energy systems rely on integrating renewable energy resources to decarbonise the heating and cooling sectors and contribute to global net zero targets. Traditional approaches to energy modelling are segregated as focus tends to be on individual objectives such as minimising operational cost. Furthermore, they are limited with respect to computational time, level of precision and scalability. Model complexity is greater for district heating and cooling systems when compared to power systems due to the thermal behaviour and fluid dynamic principles which are present. Prevailing research tends to deliver a detailed analysis of specific elements within the network, but an approach for visualising the whole system is still missing. This study aims to evaluate the current tools and techniques used to model heating and cooling networks and then propose a more up to date hybrid approach that utilises recent technical advancements. A detailed literature review outlines existing modelling methods and assesses the capabilities of available software tools. The results are summarised in a Pugh Matrix using relevant criteria to compare and select the most appropriate methods. The review concludes that energy models must evolve to become interdisciplinary and multi-objective to simulate a smart energy system.
Original languageEnglish
Article number125060
Early online date19 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished online - 19 Aug 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research is supported by the Department for the Economy (DfE) in Northern Ireland. The views and opinions expressed in this document do not necessarily reflect those of DfE.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors


  • energy system modelling
  • heating and cooling networks
  • interdisciplinary model
  • modelling tools
  • smart energy system


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