The doctoral dissertations of the former Helsinki University of Technology (TKK) and Aalto University Schools of Technology (CHEM, ELEC, ENG, SCI) published in electronic format are available in the electronic publications archive of Aalto University - Aaltodoc.

Applications of Decision Analysis in the Assessment of Energy Technologies for Buildings

Kari Alanne

Dissertation for the degree of Doctor of Science in Technology to be presented with due permission of the Department of Engineering Physics and Mathematics for public examination and debate in Auditorium E at Helsinki University of Technology (Espoo, Finland) on the 23rd of February, 2007, at 12 o'clock noon.

Overview in PDF format (ISBN 978-951-22-8625-6)   [2352 KB]
Dissertation is also available in print (ISBN 978-951-22-8624-9)


The transition to sustainable energy system calls for changes in both the production and consumption of energy, including issues such as the implementation of sustainable technologies and practices for energy conversion and the improvement of energy efficiency at the demand side.

This Thesis i) identifies the need of decision support in the commercialization of sustainable energy technologies in buildings, ii) characterizes decision-making problems related to the above context, iii) develops and implements a methodology to assess energy technologies for buildings, and iv) presents two fields of application where the above assessment is essential.

The decision-making problem is characterized by i) multiple objectives, ii) several interest groups with different preferences, iii) new alternatives with the lack of operational experiences and thus plenty of uncertainties, and iv) a broad portfolio of applicable technologies that have to be combined into a workable entity. Hence, an interdisciplinary decision support framework is required that combines basic theories of life cycle and decision analyses including sensitivity assessments.

In this Thesis, the above methodological framework is implemented in terms of two applications: i) the assessment of heating systems for a single-family house and ii) the selection of technology portfolio in a retrofit project that results in improved energy efficiency and thermal comfort, and reduced environmental burdens. Specifically, the competitiveness of a natural gas heating system containing a solid-oxide fuel cell (SOFC) is examined with respect to residential heating systems containing no electricity generation. Moreover, a multi-criteria portfolio model is applied to determine the most preferred retrofit measures in an apartment building. The above examples are selected because i) they represent a new field of research and ii) they are interesting due to the challenges they provide in decision-making.

In the assessment of heating systems that incorporate new technologies, the mutual ranking of alternatives often must be established on the basis of incomplete information. Here, the extensive framework of decision-making was useful. In the second application, the multi-criteria portfolio model was suitable in the search of optimal technological solutions in retrofit projects. According to computational studies, a small (1 kWe) SOFC heating system is an attractive alternative to traditional heating systems and simple, inexpensive measures with good price-quality ratio were preferred as retrofit actions. While the methodological framework is generally applicable, the computational examples are mainly indicative and illustrative.

This thesis consists of an overview and of the following 6 publications:

  1. Alanne, K. and Saari, A. 2006. Distributed energy generation and sustainable development. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 10 (6) 539-558. © 2006 Elsevier Science. By permission.
  2. Alanne, K. and Saari, A. 2004. Sustainable small-scale CHP technologies for buildings: the basis for multi-perspective decision-making. Renewable & Sustainable Energy Reviews 8 (5) 401-431. © 2004 Elsevier Science. By permission.
  3. Alanne, K., Saari, A., Ugursal, V. I. and Good, J. 2006. The financial viability of an SOFC cogeneration system in single-family dwellings. Journal of Power Sources 158 (1) 403-416. © 2006 Elsevier Science. By permission.
  4. Alanne, K., Saari, A. and Salo, A. 2006. Comparative analysis of the life-cycle costs of residential energy supply technologies. Nordic Journal of Surveying and Real Estate Research, accepted for publication. © 2006 Finnish Society of Surveying Sciences. By permission.
  5. Alanne, K., Salo, A., Saari, A. and Gustafsson, S.-I. 2006. Multi-criteria evaluation of residential energy supply systems. Energy and Buildings, accepted for publication. © 2006 by authors and © 2006 Elsevier Science. By permission.
  6. Alanne, K. 2004. Selection of renovation actions using multi-criteria "knapsack" model. Automation in Construction 13 (3) 377-391. © 2004 Elsevier Science. By permission.

Keywords: life cycle analysis, decision analysis, multi-criteria, energy, micro-cogeneration, residential buildings

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© 2007 Helsinki University of Technology

Last update 2011-05-26