• heat integration;
  • renewable energy;
  • solar energy storage;
  • multitank liquid water TES;
  • heat exchanger network;
  • absorption refrigerator;
  • sustainable systems

A methodology is presented for optimizing hybrid renewable energy-fossil fuel systems with short-term heat storage. The considered system is an absorption-refrigeration (AR) cycle integrated with a heat exchanger network (HEN) requiring cooling below ambient temperature. The AR cycle can be driven by multiple energy sources including excess energy from hot process streams, renewable energy sources (solar and biofuels), and fossil fuels. A two-step approach based on mixed integer nonlinear programming methods is used for the optimization. First, the problem of optimal energy integration in the hybrid energy system without heat storage is solved on a monthly basis by minimizing simultaneously the total annual cost and the overall greenhouse gas emissions. In the second step, the multi-tank thermal energy storage (TES) design problem is solved. The design involves the identification of the optimal number of storage tanks, their sizes, configuration and operation policies. The TES optimization is carried out on an hourly basis while incorporating the design targets determined by the first step. © 2013 American Institute of Chemical Engineers AIChE J, 60: 909–930, 2014