Background and activities

Dimitri Pinel (born in 1993) is a PhD candidate at NTNU from France. The main topic of his PhD is investments models for Zero Energy Neighborhood. He holds a MSc in Electric Power Engineering from NTNU as well as a an Engineer title and diploma in France from the Ecole Centrale de Lyon. His PhD started at the autumn semester of 2017 and is expected to finish around december 2020. The main supervisor for his PhD is professor Magnus Korpås, and Karen Byskov Lindberg is co-supervisor.

His master thesis was written on Hydrogen Production in Weak Grids, in particular the north of Norway, in addition with wind and solar power. It discussed the optimal technological investment, while considering different grid conditions and price point for solar.

PhD context and summary

The reduction of greenhouse gases emission has become a global objective, in order to limit the impact and consequences of climate change. In particular, the decarbonization of society has started few years ago and is underway, at different paces, in every country.

Many activity sectors are impacted, from the production of electricity to the transportation, manufacturing of goods and societal organization. The building sector is no exception, and can contribute largely to this effort. Indeed, buildings have high emissions associated to them and there is a strong potential for improvement.

The research center for Zero emission buildings (ZEB) have investigated for 9 years the concept of zero emission/energy buildings in a multi-disciplinary project. Architecture, materials, user acceptance, heating technology and optimization of the energy system have been performed.

Zero Emission Neighborhoods (ZEN) is an extension of this concept to the neighborhood scale. The ZEN research center aims at investigating how to get to zero emission neighborhoods and how they would look like. It is again an interdisciplinary research center and gathers researchers, PhDs, students and pilot projects across Norway.

In order to become zero emission, there is several steps to undertake, and in a simple approach, they can be summed up to two steps. The first step is related to the performance of the building (insolation of walls, roof and window) and to the emissions embedded in the building. The second step is to have a local energy system with its own renewable production in order to obtain a “zero emission balance”. The figure below (on the left) shows those two steps.

My PhD takes place in this context. It aims at optimizing the energy system of zero emission neighborhoods. The optimization handles the investments in the heat and electricity system of the neighborhoods, as well as its operation. The figure above (on the right) represents the neighborhood we are optimizing. It can consist of houses, apartments and neighborhood scale heat production technologies with a heating grid. It also includes batteries and heat storages.

The goal of the PhD is to have an optimization model for investment in energy systems of ZEN and that represents all the important dynamics of a neighborhood in order to have good investment and insightful results. The challenges lie in having a good representation of the dynamics of the system, a good representation of the constraints of each technology and a good representation of the relation between the heat and the electric part. The long lifetime of buildings also makes it important to capture uncertainties in the development of technologies and is an additional challenge when planning neighborhoods.

The main objective is to identify what have an impact on the design of ZENs, which technologies are chosen and why. For example, one parameter that can play an important role is CO2 factors for electricity and other energy carriers. However defining those values is partly the result of discussion and political decisions. That is why this kind of analysis can provide helpful insights. Many other such insights can be gained and would be valuable in promoting and applying the concept of ZEN.

Another aspect that can be addressed in the PhD is investigating the effect of such neighborhoods, with a lot of production on site, on the national electric system. Examples of questions in this topic are: What are the impacts on existing lines and on the needs of new lines? To what extent can they provide flexibility to the grid?

Scientific, academic and artistic work

A selection of recent journal publications, artistic productions, books, including book and report excerpts. See all publications in the database

Journal publications

Part of book/report


  • Bergsdal, Håvard; Sørensen, Åse Lekang; Cervenka, Zdena; Holm, Øystein; Thomsen, Judith; Sartori, Igor; Lindberg, Karen Byskov; Stokke, Raymond Andreas; De Boer, Luitzen; Hamdan, Hasan; Holmen, Elsebeth; Wiik, Marianne Rose Kjendseth; Backe, Stian; Kauko, Hanne; Georges, Laurent; Walnum, Harald Taxt; Lien, Synne Krekling; Skaar, Christofer; Wolfgang, Ove; Brattebø, Helge; Lausselet, Carine; Resch, Eirik; Sandberg, Nina Holck; Pinel, Dimitri; Thorvaldsen, Kasper Emil; Alonso, Maria Justo; Askeland, Magnus; Petersen, Sobah Abbas; Favero, Matteo; Carlucci, Salvatore; Liu, Peng. (2020) Innovasjonsrapport 2020. Forskningssenteret for nullutslippsområder i smarte byer (FME ZEN). SINTEF akademisk forlag. 2020. ZEN Report (28).
  • Backe, Stian; Sørensen, Åse Lekang; Pinel, Dimitri; Clauß, John; Lausselet, Carine; Woods, Ruth. (2019) Consequences of Local Energy Supply in Norway: A case study on the ZEN pilot project Campus Evenstad. SINTEF akademisk forlag. 2019. ISBN 978-82-536-1630-8. ZEN Report (17).
  • Pinel, Dimitri Quentin Alexis; Korpås, Magnus. (2017) Hydrogen Production from Wind and Solar Power in Weak Grids in Norway. 2017.