Multicriteria evaluation of carbon-neutral heat-only production technologies for district heating

Heidi Kirppu, Risto Lahdelma, Pekka Salminen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Climate change mitigation requires reducing dependence on fossil fuels and transition to low carbon energy production technologies. Nearly half of the global final energy consumption is thermal energy produced from technologies with high carbon dioxide emission. As such, it is imperative to employ carbon-neutral heat production to achieve a sustainable energy system. This paper presents a real-life case of applying multicriteria decision analysis for evaluating carbon-neutral heat-only production technologies in a major district heating system in Finland. A group of 10 experts from the energy company contributed in defining the alternative technologies and multiple economic, technological, and environmental evaluation criteria. The experts also provided the criteria measurements and preference information for different criteria. The alternatives were compared using Stochastic Multicriteria Acceptability Analysis (SMAA). SMAA is a simulation based method for decision problems where different kind of uncertain information is represented by probability distributions. Because the preferences of the experts were highly conflicting, the SMAA method was extended within this study to treat conflicting preferences. The most preferred alternatives were short-term heat storages and electric boilers based on renewable power. These alternatives may be considered attractive future solutions particularly in balancing peak load heat consumption and production.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)466-476
Number of pages11
JournalApplied Thermal Engineering
Publication statusPublished - 5 Feb 2018
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Carbon-neutral
  • District heating
  • Heat-only production
  • Multicriteria decision analysis
  • SMAA


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