Representing decentralized generation and local energy use flexibility in an energy system optimization model

Pieter Valkering, Andrea Moglianesi, Louis Godon, Jan Duerinck, Dominik Huber, Daniele Mesquita Bordalo Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Local energy generation and energy use flexibility is becoming increasingly relevant for planning energy systems with a high level of renewables, electrification, and decentralization. Although current energy system models represent various flexibility options, capturing demand-side flexibility and prosumption remains challenging. In light of these challenges, this study presents a national-scale energy system optimization model covering the residential and commercial sectors of Belgium and considering the interplay between local energy use flexibility from electric vehicle (EV) charging, battery storage, rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems and distribution grids. To adequately represent energy use flexibility, the model adopts a high temporal resolution, consisting of three representative weeks at an hourly time scale. The role of prosumption is analysed by introducing a prosumer potential reflecting the extent to which local energy production can be used to meet local demand ‘behind the meter’. The results show that flexibility significantly reduces total system costs with reduced distribution grid capacity investment by 48% by 2050. Furthermore, local energy use flexibility enables a significant uptake of rooftop PV (+6.7 GW), but only under a high prosumer potential condition. Finally, a curtailment of around 5–7% of PV production is cost-effective to sustain a more continuous use of the distribution grid at low peak capacity. To increase the robustness of the results, future research should consider expanding the model's sector coverage, adding additional flexibility sources, improving the representation of prosumption, soft-linking with distribution grid models and a better representation of mobility patterns.
Original languageEnglish
Article number121508
JournalApplied Energy
Issue number0306-2619
Publication statusPublished - 15 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Funding: This work was supported by VLAIO , Belgium in the ICON project ROLECS [reference HBC.2018.0527] and by the Research Foundation – Flanders (FWO) under the SBO project ELDEST ( Energy PoLicy DEcision Support Toolbox ) with project number S006718N. We would like to acknowledge Frank Meinke-Hubeny and Diana Perez Sanchez for their early work on the ROLECS model.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 Elsevier Ltd


  • Energy system optimization
  • Decentralized energy
  • Energy use flexibility
  • Electric vehicle charging
  • Battery storage
  • Prosumption


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