Spatially-resolved urban energy systems model to study decarbonisation pathways for energy services in cities

Francisca Jalil-Vega, Iván García Kerdan, Adam D. Hawkes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


This work presents the COMET (Cities Optimisation Model for Energy Technologies) model, a spatially-resolved urban energy systems model that takes into account energy service demands for heating, cooling, electricity, and transport, and finds cost-effective pathways for supplying these demands under carbon constraints, trading-off energy supply, network infrastructure, and end-use technologies. Spatially-resolved energy service demands were obtained for the city of Sao Paulo, and six scenarios were modelled. Results show that district cooling is cost-effective in the highest linear cooling density zones, with full penetration in zones with over 1100 kWh/m by 2050. This threshold diminishes with tighter carbon constraints. Heating is electrified in all scenarios, with electric boilers and air-source heat pumps being the main supply technologies for the domestic and commercial sectors respectively by 2050. In the most carbon constrained scenario with a medium decarbonised electricity grid, ground source heat pumps and hydrogen boilers appear as transition technologies between 2030 and 2045 for the commercial and domestic sectors respectively, reaching 95% and 40% of each sector's heat installed capacity in 2030. In the transport sector, ethanol cars replace gasoline, diesel, and compressed natural gas cars; compressed natural gas buses replace diesel and electric buses; and lorries continue using diesel. In carbon constrained scenarios, higher penetrations of electric cars and buses are obtained, while no change is observed for lorries. Finally, the most expensive scenario was only 6% more expensive than the reference scenario, meaning that achieving decarbonisation targets is not much costlier when comparing scenarios from a system-wide perspective.

Original languageEnglish
Article number114445
JournalApplied Energy
StatePublished - 15 Mar 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • Decarbonisation
  • District cooling
  • Energy systems modelling
  • Heating
  • Spatially-resolved
  • Transport


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