Urban cells: Extending the energy hub concept to facilitate sector and spatial coupling

Publication Type

Journal Article

Date Published





The rapid growth of urban areas and concerns over climate change make it vital to improve the energy sustainability of cities. Understanding the complex interactions within different sectors (sectoral) and localities (spatial) of cities plays a crucial role in improving efficiency and sustainability, which is extremely challenging due to the complex urban morphology. State-of-the-art energy concepts do not facilitate a detailed consideration of both sectoral and spatial coupling that energy infrastructure maintains at the urban scale. This has become a significant challenge when designing interconnected urban energy infrastructure. The Urban Cell concept is introduced to address this bottleneck. A novel computational model using a modular approach is introduced to create an interconnected urban infrastructure, including the energy, building, and transportation sectors. Optimal sizing of the distributed energy system (including renewables, energy storage, and dispatchable sources) and optimal urban morphology is determined within a modular unit. A game-theoretic approach is used to model the interactions between urban cells (modular units). The study revealed that the urban cell concept can reduce the net present value of the interconnected energy infrastructure by 37% while increasing the installed renewable energy capacity by 25%. This demonstrates the benefit potential of urban cells and the importance of considering interactions between different sectors and different parts within a city. The Urban Cell concept can be used to present the complex interactions maintained within a city.


Advances in Applied Energy



Year of Publication






Research Areas