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Aggregators are emerging players in the future power markets which aggregate the flexibility of small consumers. This paper proposes a hierarchical model-based scheme to activate the energy flexibility of multi-zone buildings through a direct aggregation mechanism. The novelty lies in considering the power market mechanism in which consumers try to remain committed to their bids without violating their desired comfort levels. In the proposed approach, a high-level control layer determines an hourly energy budget for the whole building according to price signals and reports it to an aggregator. A lower-level dispatch layer then distributes the pre-planned hourly energy budget among different zones. At this level, the emphasis is on keeping the energy consumption as close to the pre-planned budget as possible while satisfying the comfort requirements. In addition, this layer computes the available real-time up and down regulating power and reports them to the aggregator. For comparison, we develop both a centralized and a decentralized model predictive control (MPC) scheme for the high-level control layer. Furthermore, a decentralized MPC with variable prediction horizon is designed for the lower-level dispatch layer. The proposed method is applied to a detailed multi zone building model developed in a high-fidelity simulation environment. The results show that the proposed scheme can keep its commitment to the aggregator to a large extent (by more than 93%) while maintaining the desired comfort levels. In addition, it is seen that the centralized model reduces energy costs and exhibits between 0.5% and 2.5% better commitment to the pre-planned budget in comparison with the decentralized one at the cost of sacrificing comfort to some extent. Moreover, some preliminary results regarding available up and down regulating power for residential buildings are reported for the first time.

Original languageEnglish
Article number120562
JournalApplied Energy
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2023


  • Aggregator
  • Flexibility
  • HVAC Systems
  • MPC
  • Market mechanism
  • Multi zone buildings


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