Energy Systems Research


Focus Areas

Automated, flexible electricity consumption in buildings: The residential sector represents a significant potential source of flexible electricity consumption because 1) households comprise a substantial portion of energy demand and emissions; 2) domestic thermal applications (heating, cooling, water heating, and refrigeration) can be readily electrified and integrated with thermal storage using existing, cost-effective technologies; and 3) smart meters enable real-time communication between these technologies and electricity markets. This focus area explores how residential thermal applications can be electrified, integrated with thermal storage, and managed autonomously via energy management systems.

Neighborhood aggregation and district-scale technology: Individual building behavior is inconsequential to regional electric grid operations, but aggregating many buildings together can elevate their impact to a notable scale. This focus area aggregates individual households at the neighborhood scale to coordinate their behavior to respond flexibly to local and regional power sector signals and to integrate their operation with campus-scale technologies such as district heating and cooling.

Modeling the power sector: A major goal of my demand-side modeling work is to motivate cities to consume energy in ways that support power sector sustainability. I capture those impacts by representing the electric grid with power plant dispatch models. Coupling urban energy system and power sector models helps me investigate their interactions endogenously, in particular, by exploring the way energy technology utilization in both systems influence electricity prices and emissions.

Distributed optimization and systems aggregation methods: My theoretical work combines distributed optimization with systems aggregation to coordinate independent agents’ behavior using dynamic prices. I am particularly interested in large systems where an abundance of agents makes it difficult to apply centralized control schemes. In these situations, distributed, aggregate methods can reduce computational and communication needs.

Data analysis of pilot projects: I use real-world pilot projects to calibrate my system models and test the strategies they generate. I explore the data from these projects using statistical analysis and visualization methods. I am also interested in developing new pilot projects - from sophisticated pilots that might install energy technology in neighborhoods to test its real-world utilization, to simpler projects that virtually engage consumers with dynamic prices, automation, and new technology using energy management games.

Peer-Reviewed Journal Papers and conference proceedings

Review of climate action plans in 29 major U.S. cities: Comparing current policies to research recommendations
Thomas A. Deetjen, Julia P. Conger, Benjamin D. Leibowicz, Michael E. Webber. Sustainable Cities and Society (2018)

Optimal sizing and dispatch for a community-scale potable water recycling facility
J. Scott Vitter, Bruk Berhanu, Thomas A. Deetjen, Benjamin D. Leibowicz, Michael E. Webber. Sustainable Cities and Society (2018)

Optimal dispatch and equipment sizing of a residential central utility plant for improving rooftop solar integration
Thomas A. Deetjen, J. Scott Vitter, Andrew S. Reimers, Michael E. Webber. Energy (2018)

Modeling the optimal mix and location of wind and solar with transmission and carbon pricing considerations
Thomas A. Deetjen, Henry Martin, Joshua D. Rhodes, Michael E. Webber. Renewable Energy (2018)

Can storage reduce electricity consumption? A general equation for the grid-wide efficiency impacts of using cooling thermal energy storage for load shifting
Thomas A. Deetjen, Andrew S. Reimers, Michael E. Webber. Environmental Research Letters (2018)

Improving solar-induced grid-level flexibility requirements using residential central utility plants
Thomas A. Deetjen, J. Scott Vitter, Michael E. Webber. IEEE PES PowerTech, Manchester (2017)

Optimizing capacity extensions in power systems: A case study of Bavaria and a comparison to Texas
Thomas A. Deetjen, Matthias Huber, Michael E. Webber. IEEE 14th International Conference on the European Energy Market, Dresden (2017)

Reduced transmission grid representation using the St. Clair curve applied to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas
Henry Martin, Thomas Hamacher, Thomas A. Deetjen, Michael E. Webber. IEEE 14th International Conference on the European Energy Market, Dresden (2017)

The impacts of wind and solar on grid flexibility requirements in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas
Thomas A. Deetjen, Joshua D. Rhodes, Michael E. Webber. Energy (2017)                                                                       

Solar PV integration cost variation due to array orientation and geographic location in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas
Thomas A. Deetjen, Jared B. Garrison, Joshua D. Rhodes, Michael E. Webber. Applied Energy (2016)                  

Optimized generation capacity expansion using a further improved screening curve method
Tong Zhang, Ross Baldick, Thomas Deetjen. Electric Power System Research (2015) 

general interest articles

Are solar and wind really killing coal, nuclear and grid reliability?
Joshua D. Rhodes, Michael E. Webber, Thomas A. Deetjen, F. Todd Davidson. The Conversation (May 2017)

How to Overcome the Greatest Barriers to Rooftop Solar Power
J. Scott Vitter, Thomas A. Deetjen. Scientific American: Plugged In (June 2016)