The Role of Thermal Storage in Distributed Air-Conditioning Plants: Energy and Environmental Analysis


TRNSYS simulation
Thermal storage
Centralized plant
Energy efficiency
CO2 emissions reduction

How to Cite

Piero Bevilacqua, Stefania Perrella, Daniela Cirone, Roberto Bruno, Natale Arcuri. The Role of Thermal Storage in Distributed Air-Conditioning Plants: Energy and Environmental Analysis. Int. J. Archit. Eng. Technol. [Internet]. 2020 Dec. 30 [cited 2022 Jun. 28];7:88-104. Available from:


Energy efficiency is becoming a crucial target in the construction of a decarbonized society to guarantee sustainable development and tackle climate change issues. The building sector is one of the major players being responsible for a huge amount of primary energy, mostly related to heating and cooling services. Aside from intervening on the building envelope, intending to reduce energy demand, it is of fundamental importance to consider appropriate air-conditioning systems that can easily integrate renewable sources and rationalize energy use. Heat pumps are an appealing solution because of the renewable energy available in the external sources and because of the possibility to drive them with PV systems. Solar assisted heat pumps have therefore become a promising solution for energy efficiency in buildings, allowing lower primary energy demands and generating lower CO2 emissions. The ulterior integration of thermal storage in the systems allows for a further improvement of energy efficiency. This paper investigates the achievable energy savings after interventions of energy efficiency on a building aggregate composed of four buildings. In particular, two different scenarios of improvement of the HVAC system substituting the existing plant with PV-assisted heat pumps are considered. The performances obtained with the use of single-heat pumps and a centralized one with thermal storage are investigated employing dynamic simulations conducted in the TRNSYS environment.


V. Telichenko, A. Benuzh, G. Eames, E. Orenburova, and N. Shushunova, “Development of Green Standards for Construction in Russia,” in Procedia Engineering, 2016.

S. Korol, N. Shushunova, and T. Shushunova, “Indicators of the resource efficiency development in Russia,” in MATEC Web of Conferences, 2018.

M. I. Al-Amayreh, A. Alahmer, and A. Manasrah, “A novel parabolic solar dish design for a hybrid solar lighting-thermal applications,” Energy Reports, 2020.

A. A. Manasrah, S. Alkhalil, and M. Masoud, “Investigation of multi-way forced convective cooling on the backside of solar panels,” Int. J. Energy Convers., 2020.

A. Manasrah, A. Al Zyoud, and E. Abdelhafez, “Effect of color and nano film filters on the performance of solar photovoltaic module,” Energy Sources, Part A Recover. Util. Environ. Eff., 2021.

M. Nemś and J. Kasperski, “Experimental investigation of concentrated solar air-heater with internal multiple-fin array,” Renew. Energy, 2016.

M. Nemś, J. Kasperski, A. Nemś, and A. Bać, “Validation of a new concept of a solar air heating system with a long-term granite storage bed for a single-family house,” Appl. Energy, 2018.

A. Nemś and M. Nemś, “Analysis and selection criteria of photovoltaic panels for DHW,” in E3S Web of Conferences, 2017.

A. Bać, M. Nemś, A. Nemś, and J. Kasperski, “Sustainable integration of a solar heating system into a single-family house in the climate of Central Europe-A case study,” Sustain., 2019.

M. Nemś, A. Manikowska, and A. Nem Ś, “Linear concentrating collector as an air heater in the heating system of building in Polish climatic conditions,” in E3S Web of Conferences, 2016.

G. Ulpiani, S. Summa, and C. di Perna, “Sunspace coupling with hyper-insulated buildings: Investigation of the benefits of heat recovery via controlled mechanical ventilation,” Sol. Energy, 2019.

G. Ulpiani, E. Di Giuseppe, C. Di Perna, M. D’Orazio, and M. Zinzi, “Thermal comfort improvement in urban spaces with water spray systems: Field measurements and survey,” Build. Environ., 2019.

F. Stazi, G. Ulpiani, M. Pergolini, C. Di Perna, and M. D’Orazio, “The role of wall layers properties on the thermal performance of ventilated facades: Experimental investigation on narrowcavity design,” Energy Build., 2020.

S. Cascone, A. Gagliano, T. Poli, and G. Sciuto, “Thermal performance assessment of extensive green roofs investigating realistic vegetation-substrate configurations,” Build. Simul., 2019.

S. Cascone, “Green roof design: State of the art on technology and materials,” Sustainability (Switzerland). 2019.

A. Gagliano, F. Nocera, M. Detommaso, and G. Evola, “Thermal Behavior of an Extensive Green Roof: Numerical Simulations and Experimental Investigations,” Int. J. Heat Technol., 2016.

S. Cascone, G. Evola, C. Leone, and G. Sciuto, “Vertical greenery systems for the energy retrofitting of buildings in Mediterranean climate: A case study in Catania, Italy,” in IOP Conference Series: Materials Science and Engineering, 2018.

E. Korol, N. Shushunova, O. Feoktistova, T. Shushunova, and O. Rubtsov, “Technical and economical factors in green roof using to reduce the aircraft noise,” in MATEC Web of Conferences, 2018.

E. Korol and N. Shushunova, “Benefits of a Modular Green Roof Technology,” in Procedia Engineering, 2016.

S. Korol, N. Shushunova, and T. Shushunova, “Innovation technologies in Green Roof systems,” in MATEC Web of Conferences, 2018.

P. Bevilacqua, A. Morabito, R. Bruno, V. Ferraro, and N. Arcuri, “Seasonal performances of photovoltaic cooling systems in different weather conditions,” J. Clean. Prod., 2020.

T. Blanusa, M. M. Vaz Monteiro, F. Fantozzi, E. Vysini, Y. Li, and R. W. F. Cameron, “Alternatives to Sedum on green roofs: Can broad leaf perennial plants offer better ‘cooling service’?,” Build. Environ., 2013.

C. Gargari, C. Bibbiani, F. Fantozzi, and C. A. Campiotti, “Environmental Impact of Green Roofing: The Contribute of a Green Roof to the Sustainable use of Natural Resources in a Life Cycle Approach,” Agric. Agric. Sci. Procedia, 2016.

A. Gagliano, M. Detommaso, F. Nocera, and G. Evola, “A multi-criteria methodology for comparing the energy and environmental behavior of cool, green and traditional roofs,” Build. Environ., 2015.

V. Costanzo, G. Evola, and L. Marletta, “Energy savings in buildings or UHI mitigation? Comparison between green roofs and cool roofs,” Energy Build., 2016.

G. Evola et al., “UHI effects and strategies to improve outdoor thermal comfort in dense and old neighbourhoods,” in Energy Procedia, 2017.

K. Hami, B. Draoui, and O. Hami, “The thermal performances of a solar wall,” Energy, vol. 39, no. 1, pp. 11–16, 2012.

F. Stazi, A. Mastrucci, and C. Di Perna, “The behaviour of solar walls in residential buildings with different insulation levels: An experimental and numerical study,” Energy Build., vol. 47, pp. 217–229, 2012.

P. Bevilacqua, F. Benevento, R. Bruno, and N. Arcuri, “Are Trombe walls suitable passive systems for the reduction of the yearly building energy requirements?,” Energy, 2019.

J. Błotny and M. Nemś, “Analysis of the impact of the construction of a trombe wall on the thermal comfort in a building located in wroclaw, Poland,” Atmosphere (Basel)., 2019.

J. Szyszka, “Simulation of modified Trombe wall,” in E3S Web of Conferences, 2018.

J. Szyszka, P. Bevilacqua, and R. Bruno, “An innovative trombe wall for winter use: The thermo-diode trombe wall,” Energies, 2020.

J. Szyszka, “Experimental evaluation of the heat balance of an interactive glass wall in a heating season,” Energies, 2020.

H. Akeiber et al., “A review on phase change material (PCM) for sustainable passive cooling in building envelopes,” Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev., vol. 60, pp. 1470–1497, 2016.

N. Soares, J. J. Costa, A. R. Gaspar, and P. Santos, “Review of passive PCM latent heat thermal energy storage systems towards buildings’ energy efficiency,” Energy and Buildings. 2013.

A. De Gracia and L. F. Cabeza, “Phase change materials and thermal energy storage for buildings,” Energy and Buildings. 2015.

E. M. Alawadhi, “Thermal analysis of a building brick containing phase change material,” Energy Build., 2008.

L. F. Cabeza, C. Castellón, M. Nogués, M. Medrano, R. Leppers, and O. Zubillaga, “Use of microencapsulated PCM in concrete walls for energy savings,” Energy Build., 2007.

A. Ramos, M. A. Chatzopoulou, I. Guarracino, J. Freeman, and C. N. Markides, “Hybrid photovoltaic-thermal solar systems for combined heating, cooling and power provision in the urban environment,” Energy Convers. Manag., 2017.

M. S. Buker and S. B. Riffat, “Solar assisted heat pump systems for low temperature water heating applications: A systematic review,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 2016.

M. Noro, R. Lazzarin, and G. Bagarella, “Advancements in Hybrid Photovoltaic-thermal Systems: Performance Evaluations and Applications,” in Energy Procedia, 2016.

A. Chauhan, V. V. Tyagi, and S. Anand, “Futuristic approach for thermal management in solar PV/thermal systems with possible applications,” Energy Conversion and Management. 2018.

T. Beck, H. Kondziella, G. Huard, and T. Bruckner, “Optimal operation, configuration and sizing of generation and storage technologies for residential heat pump systems in the spotlight of self-consumption of photovoltaic electricity,” Appl. Energy, 2017.

C. Protopapadaki and D. Saelens, “Heat pump and PV impact on residential low-voltage distribution grids as a function of building and district properties,” Appl. Energy, 2017.

R. Thygesen and B. Karlsson, “An analysis on how proposed requirements for near zero energy buildings manages PV electricity in combination with two different types of heat pumps and its policy implications – A Swedish example,” Energy Policy, 2017.

G. B. M. A. Litjens, E. Worrell, and W. G. J. H. M. van Sark, “Lowering greenhouse gas emissions in the built environment by combining ground source heat pumps, photovoltaics and battery storage,” Energy Build., 2018.

J. Ji, K. Liu, T. tai Chow, G. Pei, W. He, and H. He, “Performance analysis of a photovoltaic heat pump,” Appl. Energy, 2008.

Y. H. Kuang and R. Z. Wang, “Performance of a multifunctional direct-expansion solar assisted heat pump system,” Sol. Energy, 2006.

Y. W. Li, R. Z. Wang, J. Y. Wu, and Y. X. Xu, “Experimental performance analysis on a direct-expansion solar-assisted heat pump water heater,” Appl. Therm. Eng., 2007.

A. Moreno-Rodríguez, A. González-Gil, M. Izquierdo, and N. Garcia-Hernando, “Theoretical model and experimental validation of a direct-expansion solar assisted heat pump for domestic hot water applications,” Energy, 2012.

M. Mohanraj, S. Jayaraj, and C. Muraleedharan, “Performance prediction of a direct expansion solar assisted heat pump using artificial neural networks,” Appl. Energy, 2009.

Q. Wang, Y. Q. Liu, G. F. Liang, J. R. Li, S. F. Sun, and G. M. Chen, “Development and experimental validation of a novel indirect-expansion solar-assisted multifunctional heat pump,” Energy Build., 2011.

S. J. Sterling and M. R. Collins, “Feasibility analysis of an indirect heat pump assisted solar domestic hot water system,” Appl. Energy, 2012.

K. Bakirci and B. Yuksel, “Experimental thermal performance of a solar source heat-pump system for residential heating in cold climate region,” Appl. Therm. Eng., 2011.

R. Yumrutaş and M. Ünsal, “Energy analysis and modeling of a solar assisted house heating system with a heat pump and an underground energy storage tank,” Sol. Energy, 2012.

S. P. Aly, N. Barth, B. W. Figgis, and S. Ahzi, “A fully transient novel thermal model for in-field photovoltaic modules using developed explicit and implicit finite difference schemes,” J. Comput. Sci., 2018.

V. Badescu, “Model of a thermal energy storage device integrated into a solar assisted heat pump system for space heating,” Energy Convers. Manag., 2003.

R. S. Kamel, A. S. Fung, and P. R. H. Dash, “Solar systems and their integration with heat pumps: A review,” Energy and Buildings. 2015.

M. Pinamonti, I. Beausoleil-morrison, A. Prada, and P. Baggio, “Water-to-water heat pump integration in a solar seasonal storage system for space heating and domestic hot water production of a single-family house in a cold climate,” Sol. Energy, vol. 213, no. August 2020, pp. 300–311, 2021.

C. Kutlu, Y. Zhang, T. Elmer, Y. Su, and S. Riffat, “A simulation study on performance improvement of solar assisted heat pump hot water system by novel controllable crystallization of supercooled PCMs,” Renew. Energy, 2020.

N. Arcuri, R. Bruno, and C. Carpino, “PV Driven Heat Pumps for the Electric Demand-Side Management: Experimental Results of a Demonstrative Plant,” in Proceedings - 2018 IEEE International Conference on Environment and Electrical Engineering and 2018 IEEE Industrial and Commercial Power Systems Europe, EEEIC/I and CPS Europe 2018, 2018.

G. Alva, Y. Lin, and G. Fang, “An overview of thermal energy storage systems,” Energy. 2018.

S. Pintaldi, C. Perfumo, S. Sethuvenkatraman, S. White, and G. Rosengarten, “A review of thermal energy storage technologies and control approaches for solar cooling,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 2015.

J. Lizana, R. Chacartegui, A. Barrios-Padura, and J. M. Valverde, “Advances in thermal energy storage materials and their applications towards zero energy buildings: A critical review,” Applied Energy. 2017.

H. Zhang, J. Baeyens, G. Cáceres, J. Degrève, and Y. Lv, “Thermal energy storage: Recent developments and practical aspects,” Progress in Energy and Combustion Science. 2016.

R. Parameshwaran, S. Kalaiselvam, S. Harikrishnan, and A. Elayaperumal, “Sustainable thermal energy storage technologies for buildings: A review,” Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews. 2012.

S. Bechtel, S. Rafii-Tabrizi, F. Scholzen, J. R. Hadji-Minaglou, and S. Maas, “Influence of thermal energy storage and heat pump parametrization for demand-side-management in a nearly-zero-energy-building using model predictive control,” Energy Build., 2020.

C. Schellenberg, J. Lohan, and L. Dimache, “Comparison of metaheuristic optimisation methods for grid-edge technology that leverages heat pumps and thermal energy storage,” Renew. Sustain. Energy Rev., 2020.

D. Marini, R. A. Buswell, and C. J. Hopfe, “Sizing domestic airsource heat pump systems with thermal storage under varying electrical load shifting strategies,” Appl. Energy, 2019.

P. Fitzpatrick, F. D’Ettorre, M. De Rosa, M. Yadack, U. Eicker, and D. P. Finn, “Influence of electricity prices on energy flexibility of integrated hybrid heat pump and thermal storage systems in a residential building,” Energy Build., 2020.

F. D’Ettorre, M. De Rosa, P. Conti, D. Testi, and D. Finn, “Mapping the energy flexibility potential of single buildings equipped with optimally-controlled heat pump, gas boilers and thermal storage,” Sustain. Cities Soc., 2019.

Italian Unification Institution, UNI TS 11300-1: Energy performance of buildings - Part 1: Evaluation of energy need far space heating and cooling. 2014.

A. M. Massimo Gallanti, Walter Grattieri, Simone Maggiore, “Analisi ed evoluzione negli anni delle curve di carico dei clienti domestici,” L’Energia Elettr., vol. 89, no. 6, 2012.

N. N. S. for the P. of the E. (SNPA) Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA), Fattori di emissione atomosferica di gas a effetto serra nel settore elettrico nazionale e nei principali Paesi Europei. 2020.

A. Fong, Simon James, Dey, Nilanjan, Joshi, ICT Analysis and applications: Proceedings of ICT4SD, SPRINGER, 2019. Springer Singapore, 2020.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.