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WIREs Energy Environ.
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Integrated distribution system and urban district planning with high renewable penetrations

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Recent efforts to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions have resulted in the development of sustainable, smart districts with highly energy efficient buildings, renewable distributed energy resources (DERs), and support for alternative modes of transportation. However, there is typically little if any coordination between the district developers and the local utility. Most attention is paid to the district's annual net load and generation without considering their instantaneous imbalance or the connecting network's state. This presents an opportunity to learn lessons from the design of distribution feeders for districts characterized by low loads and high penetrations of DERs that can be applied to the distribution grid at large. The aim of this overview is to summarize current practices in sustainable district planning as well as advances in modeling and design tools for incorporating the power distribution system into the district planning process. Recent developments in the modeling and optimization of district power systems, including their coordination with multi‐energy systems and the impact of high penetration levels of renewable energy, are introduced. Sustainable districts in England and Japan are reviewed as case studies to illustrate the extent to which distribution system planning has been considered in practice. Finally, newly developed building‐to‐grid modeling tools that can facilitate coordinated district and power system design with utility involvement are introduced, along with suggestions for future research directions. This article is categorized under: Wind Power > Systems and Infrastructure Energy Policy and Planning > Systems and Infrastructure Energy Efficiency > Systems and Infrastructure
A typical sustainable district design process with limited utility involvement, in which electrical demand and generation are treated on an annual time horizon, neglecting grid impacts. Transportation may or may not be included in the district's performance goals, as it can lead to ambiguous energy accounting. The distribution system design is added on near the end of the process, once most of the design decisions are made
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(a) BedZED eco‐village, Hackbridge, London, UK. Source: Tom Chance, Bioregional. (b) Fujisawa Sustainable Smart Town, Fujisawa, Japan. Source: fujisawasst.com/EN/
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An integrated district design process, in which the electric utility is involved from early stages to enable coordinated design of the district loads, generation, distribution system, protective equipment, and communication equipment, if needed. District load and generation are treated on a finer than annual time scale during the design process to ensure grid impacts are probably assessed, given the high renewable penetration
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An example of district modeled as a multi‐energy system. The inputs and outputs of an energy hub, such as a single building or group of buildings, can be related through an efficiency conversion matrix, η
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An example of implementation of a hierarchical multi‐microgrid, within a district application
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Fifth‐generation district heating and cooling network layout. Each building serves its space heating (SH) and space cooling (SC) loads through its own heat pump (HP), allowing temperature independence from the primary loop, fed by the district energy system (DES)
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