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Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756

Contents lists available at ScienceDirect

Energy and Buildings

journal homepage: www.elsevier.com/locate/enbuild

A hybrid predictive control approach for the management of an

energy productionconsumption system applied to a TRNSYS solar
absorption cooling system for thermal comfort in buildings
Eunice Herrera, Romain Bourdais , Herv Guguen
CentraleSupelec - IETR, Avenue de la Boulaie - CS 47601, F-35576 Cesson-Svign Cedex, France

a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t

Article history: The aim of this paper is to propose a control approach for the management of a productionconsumption
Received 10 April 2015 energy system based on model predictive control (MPC). The solar absorption cooling system is seen as
Received in revised form 12 June 2015 part of this productionconsumption energy system where the solar hot water storage (SHWS) system
Accepted 23 June 2015
is the producer subsystem and the chiller-building system is one of the consumer subsystems. In order
Available online 9 July 2015
to provide modularity to the control structure, the coordination between the subsystems is achieved
by designing interactive local predictive controllers. The consumer controllers compute a set of energy
demand proles sent to the producer controller which selects the prole that better minimizes the global
Absorption cooling system
Model predictive control
optimization cost function. In a rst part, the proposed control approach is tested on a simplied linear
Interactive controllers model composed of one producer and several consumers. In a second part, a more complex case is studied.
Hybrid systems A simplied model of an absorption cooling system is evaluated using the simulation tool TRNSYS. The
producer model is no longer linear, instead it is described by a nonlinear hybrid model which increases
the complexity of the optimization problem. The simulations results show that the performance of the
controller fullls the control objectives.
2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

1. Introduction are encouraged. Despite the low COP (Coefcient of Performance),

absorption cooling systems are an alternative to reduce the elec-
Thermal comfort is that condition of mind which expresses sat- tricity consumption as they are driven by free-cost energy, waste
isfaction with the thermal environment [1]. Maintaining thermal heat or solar energy. Furthermore, solar-powered absorption cycles
comfort in buildings is necessary since upon this depends several are particularly attractive because of the near coincidence of peak
factors like occupants productivity and health. One of the main pur- cooling loads with the available solar power [5].
poses of an air-conditioning system is then to provide and maintain As the COP of solar absorption cooling systems is typically low
an articial and comfortable environment for the occupants within compared to vapor-compression based cooling systems, a proper
a building or an enclosed premise[2,3]. At the same time, ensuring management of the system is crucial in order to maximize the use
thermal comfort involves energy consumption. Designed strate- of the cost-free driving sources and the minimization of electric-
gies to maintain desired thermal conditions must have a proper ity or gas which are generally used as auxiliary sources. Besides
management in order to minimize the energy use. A well-designed an adequate study about the sizing of the components [610], a
building should be able to provide good thermal comfort, while proper control of the system which is characterized by a strong
simultaneously having low energy consumption [4]. weather inuence, hybrid nature and nonlinear dynamics is nec-
For several decades now, the vapor-compression cycle based essary. Advanced control strategies as MPC have been investigated
cooling system has been the most widely used for thermal comfort to tackle this problem [1113], nevertheless a coordination mech-
control in both residential and commercial buildings. Neverthe- anism must be considered between the different elements of the
less, as nowadays electricity consumption and global warming system (hot water production, cooling production and consump-
are worldwide major concerns, other forms of cooling production tion) as presented by various studies [1417].
In this paper, the global optimization problem is tackled using
a decentralized structure, in which a controller is dedicated to
Corresponding author. manage the energy producer part and one controller is dedicated
E-mail address: romain.bourdais@centralesupelec.fr (R. Bourdais). for each energy consumer. These controllers interact so that the

0378-7788/ 2015 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
48 E. Herrera et al. / Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756

Nomenclature (i)
U2 ith consumer subsystem controlled variables vector
b number of energy proles sent to the producer [] []
D1 uncontrolled input vector of the producer system V occupancy vector during the simulation []
[] X1 state vector of the producer subsystem []
(i) (i)
D2 uncontrolled input vector of the ith consumer sys- X2 state vector of the ith consumer subsystem []
tem [] W12 interacting variable from the producer to the con-
gmax maximum value of the g variable [] sumer []
gmin minimum value of the g variable [] W21 interacting variable from the consumers to the pro-
IT total radiation on collector tilted surface [kW m2 ] ducer []
ITs total radiation on buildings wall oriented to the W21 interacting variable from the consumer i to the pro-
south [kW m2 ] ducer []
J2 set of b consumer optimization costs [] Y2
output vector (Indoor temperature) of the ith con-
J1 producer subsystem optimization cost [] sumer subsystem [ C]
(i) (i)
J2 ith consumer subsystem optimization cost [] Yr indoor temperature set-point of the ith consumer
JG global optimization cost [] subsystem [ C]
Jg calculated optimization cost using b proles [] x average of vector x []
Jg calculated optimization cost of the centralized case
x(k) state vector over the prediction horizon Nh []
[] occupancy prole []
Jt set of chiller-building optimization costs []  set of consumers energy demand proles []
Jt,h one element of the set Jt [] h one element of the set  []
m number of consumers []  switching mode []
max(x) maximum value of vector x []  sd standard deviation []
m 1, m 2 uid mass ow rates in the tank-chiller loop [kg h1 ] %subopt suboptimality percentage []

mch uid mass ow rate in the chiller evaporator circuit
[kg h1 ]
mh uid mass ow rate of the heat exchanger-tank loop resulting solution is close to the original optimization problem but
[kg h1 ] avoiding its complexity. The proposed methodology is generic but
ml uid mass ow rate in the chiller generator circuit it is illustrated on an example in which the energy producer is
[kg h1 ] the solar hot water storage (SHWS) system and one of the energy
ms uid mass ow rate of the heat exchanger-collector consumers is the absorption chiller which provides cooling to a
loop [kg h1 ] building.
(i) (i) (i)
Q1 , Q2 , Q3 weighting factors in the optimization cost This paper is organized as follows: Section 2 introduces the
function J2 , [] energy productionconsumption system modeling. Afterwards,
Q aux rate of energy input by the heating element [kW] the proposed MPC strategy is formulated in Section 3. In Section 4,
Q s rate of energy input by the solar power system [kW] the performance of the control strategy is rst evaluated by several
T1 , T2 , T3 temperatures in the different levels of the stratied quantitative studies using a simplied linear case of the energy
storage tank [ C] productionconsumption system. In order to evaluate the perfor-
Tchr temperature of the uid entering in the chiller from mance of the proposed control strategy using a more complex test
the building [ C] case, an abstract model of a solar absorption cooling system for
Tchs temperature of the uid sent into the building from thermal comfort control in buildings developed in the thermal sim-
the chiller [ C] ulation tool TRNSYS [18] is studied. The conclusions of this study
Text exterior temperature [ C] are provided in Section 6.
Th temperature of the uid entering the storage tank
from the solar source [ C] 2. The productionconsumption system
Ti temperature of the uid entering the collector from
the heat exchanger [ C] The productionconsumption system is composed of one pro-
Tl outlet water temperature of the chiller generator ducer and m consumers. The producer is a representation of the
[ C] SHWS system which control inputs U1 (k) are the water ow rates
To mixing valve outlet temperature [ C] in the circulation pumps and the auxiliary energy (which can
Top building operative temperature [ C] be continuously controlled). The producer has a nonlinear hybrid
Ts collector outlet temperature [ C] dynamics. The nonlinear characteristic is due to the dependency
Tset set-point temperature demanded by the chiller gen- between temperature and water ow rates circulating in the stor-
erator circuit [ C] age tank and the hybrid one is introduced by the tank operating
Tsbg set-point building operative temperature [ C] modes. Indeed, the hybrid behavior depends on the direction of
Twbp water boiling point temperature [ C] the water entering and leaving the tank.

U1 vector composed of the state and inputs of the pro- The energy producer S1 is described by a hybrid nonlinear dis-
ducer system [] crete model of the form
U 2 vector composed of the state and inputs of the ith X1 (k + 1) = f1(k) (U 1 (k), W21 (k)) (1)
consumer system []
U set of b proles sent to the producer controller [] (k) = (U 1 (k), W21 (k)) (2)
U1 producer subsystem controlled variables vector [] where U 1 (k) = [X1 (k), U1 (k), D1 (k)]. The state vector of the system
is X1 (k) Rn1 . U1 (k) Rm1 is the vector of controlled variables and
D1 (k) Rp1 is the vector of non-controlled inputs. W21 (k) Rq1 is
E. Herrera et al. / Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756 49

the vector of interacting variables with the consumers. (k) rep-

resents the switching mode that depends on the state, on the
controlled variables and uncontrolled variables. The number of
modes is nite. The producer S1 is subject to output and input
constraints given by

H1(k) (U 1 (k), W21 (k)) 0 (3)

Furthermore, the interacting variable related to the inuence of

the producer on the consumers is given by

W12 (k) = g1 (U 1 (k), W21 (k)) (4)

Consequently, the producer S1 is seen as a hybrid system with

continuous control inputs subject to nonlinear constraints that
depend on hybrid conditions.
The m consumers are composed of the chiller and the condi-
tioned space. The cooling water is circulated towards the building
using a radiant ceiling. The i consumer S2 is represented by
(i) (i) (i)
X2 (k + 1) = f2 (U 2 (k), W12 (k)) (5)
(i) (i) (i)
Y2 (k) = h2 (U 2 (k), W12 (k)) (6)
(i) (i) (i)
W21 (k) = g2 (U 2 (k), W12 (k)) (7)
Fig. 1. Structure of an energy producer-consumer system.
(i) (i) (i) (i)
where U 2 (k) = [X2 (k), U2 (k), D2 (k)]. At the same time, the ith
consumer is subject to output and input constraints as follows where k1 , k1 and 1 are constants. X2 (k) Rn2 is the state vector.
(i) (i) U2 (k) 0, 1 is the binary control variable and D2 (k) Rp2 is the
H2 (U 2 (k), W12 (k)) 0 (8)
vector of non-controlled inputs. Y2 (k) Rr2 is the output vector.
The inuence of the consumers on the producer is given by the (i)
The ith consumer S2 is subject input and output constraints
following relation:
given by

(i) (i)
Y2 min (k) Y2 (k) Y2 max (k)
W21 (k) = W21 (k) (9)
i=1 (i)
U2 (k)  0, 1 (14)
From the productionconsumption system description, it can Then, the ith consumer S2 is a hybrid system due to the discrete
be seen that strong interactions exist between the subsystems. In nature of its control input.
order to decrease the complexity of the control structure, a sim-
plication of these interactions is done from a control point of
3. MPC problem formulation
view. That is, the inuence of the producer on the m consumers
is not considered in the control model. Instead, a constraint is
In this section, the model predictive control strategy for the
added to the production system: the hot water must be delivered
productionconsumption system is presented. The aim of this
to the consumers at constant ow rate and temperature. Fig. 1
approach is to guarantee the thermal comfort in the condi-
depicts the simplied structure of the productionconsumption
tioned space by fullling the producer and consumer constraints.
system. Another simplication is done, the chiller operates at nom-
The global control problem is solved using predictive controllers
inal capacity. Taking into account that the absorption chiller can
associated with each subsystem with an information exchange
be characterized by a fast transient response compared to time
between producer and consumer controllers. Each of these predic-
constants in the order of 0.51 h (e.g. the Rotartica chiller presented
tive controllers is called local controller. First, the global problem
by [19] and [20]) which is the typical time constant for thermal
of energy productionconsumption is dened. Latter, the global
comfort control in buildings, the transient dynamics of the machine
problem is divided solving local optimization problems. To sim-
is not included as part of the consumer model. Instead, a steady- =
plify the notation, given a prediction horizon Nh at step k, x(k)
state abstract model is used to characterize the energy transferred T T T
from the hot water source to the building. As the dynamical model [x(k) , . . ., x(k + Nh 1) ] .
of the absorption chiller is not studied and as a low-level control
of the machine is not designed, it is supposed that the absorp- 3.1. Global optimization problem: a multi-objective criterion
tion chiller operates at nominal capacity. This implies that inlet
temperatures at generator, condenser and evaporator circuits are The producer has two energy sources. The solar energy is con-
controlled at nominal values. Consequently, the only degree of sidered as a disturbance since it is an external input that cannot be
freedom is the switch on/off of the chiller. According to this sim- controlled. The other source is the auxiliary electric energy which
plication, the ith consumer is represented as follows, instead can be controlled. As the electric energy use is translated in
electric power consumption associated to a corresponding cost, it
(i) (i) (i)
X2 (k + 1) = A(i) X2 (k) + B(i) U2 (k) + F (i) D2 (k) (10) is necessary to minimize this energy as much as possible.
As for the consumers, the control objectives are related to the
(i) (i)
Y2 (k) = C (i) X2 (k) (11) energy consumption. Besides, the binary behavior of the control
(i) (i) (i) (i)
input U2 (k) imposes a restriction on the operating periods of the
W21 (k) = k1 U2 (k)Y2 (k) k2 U2 (k) (12) consumer. That is, during a given lapse of time, it is preferable to
50 E. Herrera et al. / Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756

operate the energy consumer with as low as possible turn on/off to the producer controller. The set of these b solution is dened by
events in order to avoid damages in the subsystem and to improve 2(i) (k):
its performance.
Thus, the objective of the ith consumer can be translated into (i)

the optimization cost function as U2,1 (k)


(i) (i) (i) (i) d (i) (i) d
U =
2(i) (k) (i)
U2,2 (k) (17)
J2 (U2 (k)) = [Q1 U2 (k + j 1)d + Q2 U2 (k + j 1)d

(i) (i) (i)
+ Q3 (i) (k + j)Y2 (k + j) Yr (k + j)d ] (15) (i)
U2,b (k)
(i) (i) (i)
in which U2 (j) = U2 (j) U2 (j 1) represents the change in the
control input. The occupancy at time k + j is given by the discrete The cost function value of each of these control sequences has
also to be calculated, dening the set 
(i) (i) (i) (i)
variable (i) (k) {0, 1}. Q1 , Q2 and Q3 are weighting coefcients. J2 (k):
An empiric tuning of the coefcients has been considered for these
studies. (i)
J2,1 (k)
In order to minimize the complexity of the optimization prob- (i)
lem, it can be seen from Eq. (15) that the consumer constraint J2,2 (k)
described in Eq. (13) is introduced in the optimization criterion by J2 (k) = (18)
(i) ..
adding a set-point variable Yr (k). The minimization of the differ- .
ence between the consumer output Y2 (k)(i) and the desired output (i)
(i) J2,b (k)
Yr (k) only takes place during the occupancy periods, i.e. (i) (k) is
different from zero.
The global problem of energy productionconsumption can be (i)
Note that J2,1 (k) is the best optimization cost of the local problem
stated as follows i.

m As the important point is to determinate the inuence of the
U (1) (k),
JG (U1 (k), . . ., U (m) (k))
= J1 (U1 (k))
+ (i) (i)
J2 (U2 (k)) (16) consumers on the producer, for each of these best b solution, the
2 2
interaction variable has to be evaluated:

Taking into account the output and input constraints stated in (i)

W21,1 (k)
Eqs. (3), (8) and (14), the global optimization problem is a mixed
integer nonlinear one. As the number of consumers m increases, W21,2 (k)

this kind of optimization problem may not be easy to solve from W21 (k) = (19)
a centralized control point of view. Then, the optimization prob- ..
lem is tackled in a straightforward manner: a partitioning approach
is considered where local controllers are designed for each sub- W21,b (k)
system. The interactions between subsystems is introduced by
proposing several consumption energy proles to the producer  21
Each consumer controller generates its own set W (k). Group-
which selects the best one according to its objectives but taking into

ing these sets creates a superset, denoted by (k). It represents
account the preferences of the consumers. The proposed control
structure is detailed in the following section. all the possible combinations of the consumers inuence on the
producer and its built from Eq. (9).
is dened as follows:
3.2. Proposed MPC architecture

In this strategy, the difculty level of solving the global mixed 1 (k)
integer nonlinear problem is decreased by considering a reduced
number of integer possibilities. A model predictive controller is .

developed for the producer S1 which solves an optimization accord- (k) =

h (k)

ing to the information sent by the m consumer controllers which
solve an integer optimization. ..
3.2.1. Consumer optimization problem
bm (k)
According to the optimization cost function described in Eq.
(15), the optimization problem for each of the m consumers can is the hth element of (k).
in which h (k) This matrix contains bm
be written. elements. As an illustrative example, let us consider the case with
Optimization problem. At a time k and given the prediction hori- m = 2 and b = 2.
zon Nh , the current state of the system X2 (k), the previous control
input U2 (k 1) and the prediction of the uncontrolled variables
1 (k)
W21,1 (k)
+ W21,1 (k)

D (k), the problem for the consumer predictive controller is to nd
2 (k)
W21,1 (k)
+ W (2) (k)

= =
(i) (i) 21,2
the best b solutions that minimize J2 (U2 (k)). (k) (21)
(1) (2)
As U2 (k + j 1) {0, 1}, this is a discrete optimization problem. 3 (k) W21,2 (k) + W21,1 (k)
The objective of this controller is to nd not only the best solution (1) (2)
4 (k) +W
W21,2 (k)
but also the best b solutions in order to offer a degree of freedom 21,2
E. Herrera et al. / Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756 51

controller computes bm linear optimizations according to the set

of energy demands (k).
3. Given the set of bm linear optimizations, the energy producer
controller selects the one that has the lowest cost (described by
Eq. (23)). The energy demand prole h (k) selected associated
with the producer optimization lower cost is identied.
4. The producer controller sends the rst element U1 (k) of the
control signal vector to the producer and communicates to the
energy consumer controllers the energy demand prole h (k)
that has been selected. The consumer controllers send the rst
element U2 (k) of the control signal vectors associated with the

selected energy demand prole h (k).
5. The algorithm restarts at the sampling time k + 1.

Fig. 2. Global control architecture. In the proposed control strategy, each of the consumer con-
trollers carries out an integer optimization which computes b
energy demand proles sent to the producer controller. For exam-
On the same way, the set of consumer optimization costs Jt (k) is ple, by considering m = 3 consumers which propose b = 3 energy
built. Each of the bm elements is the sum of the local optimization demand proles over a prediction horizon Nh = 8, the number of
costs of each consumer. For the same example as before, we have: optimizations performed by the producer controller is bm = 27.
(1) (2)
In a centralized approach, this number increases exponentially
Jt,1 (k) J2,1 (k) + J2,1 (k) to 2(mNh ) = 1.7 107 . To better explain this, consider the scenario
Jt,2 (k) J2,1 (k) + J2,2 (k)
(2) depicted in Fig. 3 where the number of consumers is m = 2 and each

Jt (k) =
J (k) = (22) of them proposes b = 3 energy demand proles over a prediction
t,3 J2,2 (k) + J2,1 (k)
(1) (2) horizon of Nh = 2. If a centralized optimization is used, the num-
ber of integer combinations is 2(mNh ) = 16. That is, 16 optimizations
Jt,4 (k) (1) (2)
J2,2 (k) + J2,2 (k) are performed by the producer controller. Instead, the proposed
control strategy only considers a given number b of combinations
which generates a reduced eld of possibilities, in this case, the
3.2.2. Producer optimization problem
number is bm = 9. It can be noticed that the combinations c1 c4 , c6 ,
The optimization problem for the producer can be stated as
c10 and c14 are not evaluated which may lead to a suboptimality in
the solution.
Optimization problem. At a time k and given the prediction hori-
zon Nh , the current state of the system X1 (k), the prediction of the
uncontrolled variables D1 (k) and the set of energy demand pro-

les (k) where each element of the set h (k) has an associated 4. Case study 1: A simplied linear case
optimization cost Jt,h (k), the optimization problem for the energy
producer predictive controller is given by 4.1. System description

h (k))
min J1 (U1 (k), + Jt,h (k) (23) The objective of this study is to evaluate the perfor-

U1 (k),h
mance of the proposed control approach applied to the energy
productionconsumption system described in Section 2. As the
subject to:
control problem is solved from a decentralized point of view, the
H1(k) (U 1 (k), h (k)) (24) solution obtained is suboptimal. Then, suboptimality studies are
required in order to compare the results of the proposed strategy
h {1, 2, . . ., b } (25) with the centralized case. Nevertheless, solving a nonlinear opti-
mization problem is very hard, and can also induce suboptimality.
The producer controller has to nd the optimal cost In order to only study the suboptimality of the method, we consider
h (k))
J1 (U1 (k), and has to select the best energy demand prole
a simple linear model, by simplifying the producer model, for which
among the bm available proles, taking into account its cor-
h (k) any linear solver can determinate exactly the optimal solution. This
responding optimization cost Jt,h (k)in the cost function. model is described as follows:

3.2.3. Control strategy algorithm X1 (k + 1) = A1 X1 (k) + (D1 (k) + B1 (U1 (k) W21 (k))) (26)
Fig. 2 displays the architecture of the proposed control strategy.
A detailed description of the algorithm is given below. m (i)
where W21 = W (k). Then, the producer is represented by a
i=1 21
solar and electric energy storage linear system. Considering that
1. Given the consumer state vectors X2 (k)i=1,...,m , the previous the consumers are also described by linear models as in Equations
control inputs 1)i=1,...,m , and the prediction of the dis-
U2 (k (10) and (11), the global optimization problem is a mixed integer

turbances D2 (k) over the prediction horizon Nh , the energy linear problem. This model simplication allows the assessment
consumer controllers compute the superset (k) of bm energy of the control strategy ensuring that the optimal solution can be
demands over the prediction horizon Nh as well as the associate found. The MATLAB function linprog is used for the resolution of
costs Jt (k). the producer optimization problem and a modied version of the
2. Given the producer state vector X1 (k), the set (k) provided by branch and bound-based algorithm [21] is developed for the con-
the energy consumer controllers and the prediction of the distur- sumers optimization problem resolution. This algorithm computes
bances D1 (k) over the prediction horizon Nh , the energy producer a set of optimal solutions which are sent to the producer controller.
52 E. Herrera et al. / Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756

Fig. 3. Integer combinations considering Nh = 2, m = 2 and b = 3.

4.2. Simulation results 4.2.3. Test 2: Suboptimality percentage vs. optimal/random

energy demand proles b
4.2.1. Data generation Each consumer controller determinates b optimal solutions. It
As one the objective of the simplied model is to understand could be interesting to compare the behavior when the solutions
the behavior of the proposed control scheme and to evaluate the are all not optimal but when some are chosen randomly. Fig. 5
induced suboptimality, we proposed not to evaluate on completely depicts the suboptimality percentage of the proposed control strat-
random initial states but to use initial states more close to reality. egy considering b = 5 energy demand proles that come from:
In this context, the states that are considered as initial states in the
N = 144 optimization problems for statistical study, are recorded Optimal proles: This criterion of energy demand prole gener-
from a consistent open trajectory of the global system. ation is the one that has been considered so far. The black lines
represent the mean x and standard deviation  sd of suboptimality
4.2.2. Test 1: Suboptimality percentage vs. number of energy percentage considering that the set of b energy demand proles
proles b sent by the ith consumer controller corresponds to the optimal
The difference between the results obtained using a lower num- solutions.
ber of energy demand proles and the centralized control case is Partially optimal proles: The blue lines are related to a par-
quantied by the suboptimality percentage given by tially optimal set of energy demand proles. This set is generated
Jg (k) Jg (k) selecting 5 of the b = 10 optimal energy proles calculated by the
%subopt (k) = 100% (27) branch and bound-based algorithm. The rst two energy proles
Jg (k) are the ones that have the lower optimization cost. The next three
where, proles are randomly selected from the eight remaining proles
of the set.
Jg (k) = J1 (U1 (k), h (k)) + Jt,h (k) (28) Random proles: The magenta lines are related to a random set of
The variable Jg (k) is the computed optimization cost which has energy demand proles without optimization. That is, with Nh = 5,
been obtained using a lower number of energy proles than the the ith consumer controller randomly selects b = 5 combinations
centralized case (when all the integer combinations are evaluated).
The variable Jg (k) is the computed optimization cost which has
been obtained considering all possible integer combinations, that % optimization suboptimality
is, the optimal case.
The following indexes are introduced
1 N
mean x

x = %subopt (k) (29) 6

N k=1

1 N
sd = (%subopt (k) x ) (30) 2
N1 k=1
Fig. 4 depicts the results calculated by the indexes when the 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
number of profiles b
number of energy proles varies from b = 1 up to b = 32. Each cir-
cle of the blue, magenta and black curves of Fig. 4 represents the
mean x and standard deviation  sd of the suboptimality percent-
Standard deviation sd

age %subopt (k) respectively. For example, the rst circle of the blue 20
curve corresponds to the mean of the suboptimality percentage
calculated from the comparison between the optimal case b = 32. 15

Fig. 4 shows that there is a signicant difference in terms of subop- 10

timality percentage from b = 1 up to b = 5. For example, the standard
deviation and mean considering one energy demand prole b = 1 5

are x = 11.6% and  sd = 21.5% respectively. For b = 5, the subopti- 0

mality percentage for the mean and standard deviation are 4.5% 0 5 10 15 20 25 30 35
number of profiles b
and 10.8% respectively, which decreases as the number of energy
demand proles b increases. Fig. 4. Suboptimality percentage considering b = 1 up to b = 32.
E. Herrera et al. / Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756 53

% optimization suboptimality storage system composed of solar collector, heat exchanger and
storage tank, the prediction model becomes nonlinear and hybrid.
optimal profiles
This entails the growth of the optimization complexity. In order not
partially optimal profiles to add further complexity to the global optimization problem, the
mean x

10 0.1*random profiles solar cooling installation studied here only considers one consumer
composed of an absorption chiller and a building.

5.1. Prediction model

1 1.5 2 2.5 3
Fig. 6 depicts a solar absorption cooling system which is divided
into two parts: the energy producer and the energy consumer. The
producer corresponds to the SHWS system which is composed of a
Standard deviation sd

25 collector panel, a heat exchanger and a storage tank. Steady-state

20 models for both collector panel and heat exchanger are used as the
transient response of these elements is considered negligible com-
pared to the working sampling time (0.5 h) of the building model.
10 The consumer is composed of a building and an absorption chiller.
5 The model of the solar absorption cooling system is based on
0 physical considerations for each subsystem and most of them are
1 1.5 2 2.5 3 inspired by the TRNSYS documentation [18]. A global model of the
producer is obtained from the collector panel, heat exchanger and
Fig. 5. Suboptimality percentage considering b = 5 and different energy demand
prole generation.
storage tank models. The resulting global model is a hybrid non-
linear system. Further information about the producer prediction
model can be found in the study presented by [22]. According to the
from the 2Nh = 32 possibilities, it calculates its corresponding opti-
generalized model presented in section, the state vector, the vec-
mization cost and sends these sets to the producer controller.
tor of controlled variables, the disturbances vector and the vector
of interacting variables for the SHWS system are dened as follows
From Fig. 5 it can be noticed that there is an obvious difference
between the results considering optimal/partially optimal proles
X1 (k) = [T1 (k), T2 (k), T3 (k)] (31)
and the ones obtained by considering random proles which have
a mean x = 147% and standard deviation  sd = 274% of subopti- U1 (k) = [m h (k), Q aux (k)]
s (k), m (32)
mality. Even if there is a minimal difference compared with the
optimal proles, considering partially optimal solutions leads to a D1 (k) = [IT (k), Text (k)] (33)
lower suboptimality percentage but computation complexity must
be taken into account as the prediction horizon size increases. That W21 (k) = [m
l (k), Tl (k)] (34)
is, the generation of partially optimal solutions requires the com-
putation of a bigger number of energy demand proles for the same where the vector X1 (k) represents the storage tank temperatures,
number of proles sent to the producer controller. Consequently, m s (k) and m
h (k) are the water ow rates of the circulation pumps
as the prediction horizon size increases, the optimization problem P1 and P2, Q aux (k) is the auxiliary electric power applied to the
resolution becomes even more complex. very top segment of the tank when the solar power is not strong
enough to rise the temperature T1 (k) to the required value if there
4.2.4. Test 3: Computational time comparison is a cooling demand. The vector D1 (k) represents the weather data
A last study has been provided regarding the computational time and the interacting variable W21 (k) is determined by the inuence
required by this kind of suboptimal strategies. For a prediction hori- of the chiller-building system on the SHWS system.
zon size equal to 8 (Nh = 8), a centralized solution is not reasonably The producer is subject to output constraints which can be
implementable in a close-loop control, but in order to illustrate this expressed in an explicit way as
exponential growth, we also implemented the proposed strategy
with b = 32. Table 1 summarizes the results obtained, which clearly T1 (k), T2 (k), T3 (k), Th (k), Ts (k), Ti (k) Twbp (k) (35)
highlight this exponential explosion.
T1 (k) Tset (k) if m
l (k) > 0 (36)
5. Case study 2: a TRNSYS model of a solar absorption
cooling system for a building Eq. (35) represents the limit temperature constraint of the SHWS
system to ensure safety performance of the system. Then, each tem-
In order to assess the performance of the proposed control strat- perature must remain below the water boiling point limit Twbp (k).
egy on a more complex case, a simplied solar absorption cooling Eq. (36) refers to the minimum required operating temperature at
system for thermal comfort in buildings implemented in the TRN- which T1 (k) must be when there is a chiller energy demand. The
SYS simulation tool is studied. Then, the linear representation of the vector of the SHWS system controlled variables is subject to lower
energy productionconsumption system is no longer adequate for and upper bounds as follows
prediction. As the producer is now represented by a solar hot water
U1 min U1 (k) U1 max (37)
Table 1
Control strategies time comparison.
The consumer prediction model presented in Eqs. (10)(12) is
also used for this case study. It represents the chiller-building sys-
Strategies Mean optimization time (s) tem which is subject to disturbances as the exterior temperature
Proposed algorithm with b = 3 0.85 Text and the solar radiation ITs (k) and to the binary behavior of the
Proposed algorithm with b = 32 755 chiller control input.
54 E. Herrera et al. / Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756

Chiller-building system

Fig. 6. Solar cooling system.

5.2. Performance indexes included in the criterion are not only related to energy consumption
but to the constraints fulllment.
In order to assess the performance of the proposed control strat- From top to bottom of Fig. 7, the rst panel shows the storage
egy, the following indexes are introduced. They are calculated a tank temperature T1 (k) evolution (blue curve), its upper and lower
posteriori, after the simulation tests. bounds (red curves), and the chiller water ow rate (black curves).
For the producer controller: The value of the latter curve is modied in order to t in the gure.
The second panel of the gure represents the collector outlet ow
The rst indicator I (measured in kWh) quanties the use of temperature (blue curve) and its upper limit (red curve). The third
and fourth panel are the water ow rate m h (k) in the SHWS system
auxiliary energy U1 (k) over the simulation from the initial time
ti until the nal time tf . The value of this indicator should be as
small as possible. It can be formalized as follows:
T (C)

I = U1 (t)dt (38) 100

ti 80
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
For the consumers: Time(hours)
Two indicators are related to the control input of each consumer. 150
T (C)

The rst one (dimensionless) quanties the number of changes 100

of the ith control input over the simulation. It can be dened as 50

tf (i)
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
I (i) = |U2 (k)| (39) Time(hours)
U k=ti
m (kg/hr)

The second one (dimensionless) quanties the number of instants

where the chiller is working of the ith building:

I (i) = U2 (k) (40) 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
U k=ti
2 Time(hours)
Qaux (kW)

The third indicator (measured in C) computes the average of

the ith building operative temperature deviation from the corre- 10
sponding set-point during occupancy proles: 0
1 tf (i) (i)
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
I (i) = (i) (k)|Y2 (k) Yr (k)| (41) Time(hours)
2 V 1 k=ti
Top (C)

where V = [(i) (ti ), . . ., (i) (tf )]. It is supposed that ||V||1 is different 25
from zero.
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
5.3. Simulation results Time(hours)
ml (kg/hr)

Fig. 7 depicts the performance of the control strategy tested 500

in the TRNSYS case study. The parameters of the controllers are
detailed in Appendix A. The prediction horizon for the SHWS pre- 0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
dictive controller has been set at Nh = 8 (4 h) and a sampling time of Time(hours)
IT (kW/m )

0.5 h. The criterion to select the prediction horizon has been chosen 1.5

taking into account a trade-off between optimization complexity 1

and anticipation capacity. The objective of the predictive controller 0.5
is to minimize the energy consumption of the system which could 0
0 20 40 60 80 100 120 140 160
be translated into a linear optimization criterion. However, this has Time(hours)
been chosen in a quadratic form in order to provide more convex-
ity properties to the optimization problem. Furthermore, the terms Fig. 7. MPC strategy considering T1 = 82 C, Top = 27 C and b = 3.
E. Herrera et al. / Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756 55

Table 2 is, when only one energy prole is sent to the producer controller
Control strategies comparison.
(which is the case of the MPC-LRBC strategy), a larger number of
MPC-LRBC strategy MPC strategy sudden peaks in the ow rate (as the one shown in the rst day of
Fig. 7) occurs. This may imply that by sending more than one energy
T1 = 82 C T1 = 111 C T1 = 82 C T1 = 111 C
Top = 27 C Top = 27 C Top = 27 C Top = 27 C demand prole as in the MPC strategy, an improved solution to the
optimization problem is found from a practical point of view.
IU2 96 96 74 80
IU2 103 103 63.5 65
IY2 1.16 1.15 1.18 1.25
I 68.91 23.04 43.76 14.69 6. Conclusions

ITs 13.33 2.71 0.46 0

IT1 0 0 0.29 0 The present study is dedicated to the development
of a control strategy for the management of an energy
productionconsumption system. The main control challenge
is to achieve an energy balance between production and con-
and the auxiliary electric energy Q aux (k) respectively. The fth panel
sumption parts while maintaining the operating conditions within
of the gure depicts the building temperature Top (k) (blue curve),
the desired reference values. In order to provide modularity and
the occupancy periods (dashed magenta lines) and the temperature
simplicity to the control structure, the management of the energy
set-point (red line). Finally, the last panel shows the solar radiation
productionconsumption system is developed using a partitioning
IT (k).
system approach which allows the design of a decentralized con-
In order to exemplify the strategy, the number of energy demand
trol structure with minimal information exchange. Both producer
proles has been arbitrarily set to b = 3. The initial temperature at
and consumers control design are independent and in order to
the top of the tank is set at T1 = 82 C and the operative temperature
minimize the degradation of the optimal solution, interaction
in the building begins at Top = 27 C. In order to ensure that the tem-
mechanisms are established. Instead of solving a centralized
perature T1 (k) is greater or equal to Tset when the chiller operates,
control approach by exploring all the possibilities of the discrete
the SHWS controller anticipates the need of the auxiliary energy
set, the proposed control strategy only considers a smaller set
Q aux (k). It can be seen that the safety constraints of temperatures
which reduces signicantly the computational burden. Even if
T1 (k) and Ts (k) are respected. The priority of the building predictive
this consideration may lead to a suboptimal solution, quantitative
controller is to maintain as small as possible the difference between
simulation results have demonstrated that, by considering this
the building operative temperature and the set-point Tsbg which is
reduced set, the percentage of suboptimality is not signicant and
set at 25 C. The secondary objectives are the minimization of the
an important computational time is saved. In the proposed control
chiller switch on/off changes and the use of chilled water. These
strategy, the set of energy demand proles sent by each of the con-
changes cannot be signicantly reduced as a further minimization
sumers corresponds, in a rst stage, to its optimal solutions. Other
may degrade the building thermal comfort.
quantitative studies to assess the control strategy performance
Table 2 presents the performance indexes introduced in Sec-
have been done considering different criteria to generate the set.
tion 5.2 for the proposed MPC strategy taking into account two
The results have shown that a minimal suboptimality reduction is
different initial conditions: when the temperature of the tank
achieved by composing the set of energy proles randomly chosen
very top layer are T1 = 82 C and T1 = 111 C. These results are
from a bigger number of optimal solutions. Moreover, this kind of
compared with the MPC-LRBC strategy which is developed in
control architecture is also interesting because the only data that
the study presented by [22]. The objective of this MPC-LRBC
are exchanged between a consumer and the rest of the system are
strategy is to guarantee the constraints fulllment in the SHWS
limited and can preserve in a certain aspect the condentiality on
system while maintaining a straightforward control strategy in the
what is locally done.
chiller-building system. This control structure combines a model
The proposed MPC strategy is applied to a TRNSYS model of a
predictive control strategy for the SHWS system with a logic rule-
simplied solar absorption cooling system. The simulation results
based control (LRBC) strategy for the chiller-building system. That
show that by sending more than one energy demand prole to the
is, there is no on-line optimization for the consumption part but
producer controller, the solver can nd better solutions which may
it is considered that a ow rate prole generator sends the energy
avoid undesirable behaviors as sudden peaks in the collector ow
demand prole to the SHWS system which calculates its local non-
rate. In general, the proposed MPC strategy has a better perfor-
linear optimization as a function of the energy demand prole
the set-point mance compared with the MPC-LRBC strategy, which highlights
received. According to the occupation prole (k),
the interest of using model predictive control.
temperature Tsbg and the current building temperature Top (k), the
consumer controller decides to switch the chiller and pumps on/off.
The sequence of decision is logged to provide the ow rate prole
Appendix A. Model and control parameters
to the SHWS system controller. Two indexes have been aggregated:
the index I Ts (measured in C) quanties the upper limit constraint
The matrices of the building model are:
violation of the collector outlet temperature Ts (k) and I T1 (mea-
sured in C) quanties the lower limit constraint violation of the
tank temperature T1 (k). 0.9907 0.01801 0.050276 0.010807
It can be noticed that the MPC strategy has lower switch on/off 0.015113 0.70914 0.28662
A= (A.1)
changes IU2 and lower use of the chiller I U2 . In addition, the index 0.10674 0.50807 0.34083 0.025452
I shows that the MPC strategy has the lower electricity con- 0.033633 0.088119 0.36012 0.87395
sumption and the lower temperature constraint violations. It is

worth noting that the constraints violations of the MPC-LRBC and 3.1104e 05
MPC strategies are related to the difference found between the TRN- 0.00031401
SYS simulation model and the prediction model. The study of the B= (A.2)
two strategies showed that the MPC strategy improved the MPC-
LRBC one in terms of the smooth behavior of the ow rate m h . That 5.3283e 05
56 E. Herrera et al. / Energy and Buildings 104 (2015) 4756

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