Handling model uncertainty in model predictive control for energy efficient buildings

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Model uncertainty is a significant challenge to more widespread use of model predictive controllers (MPC) for optimizing building energy consumption. This paper presents two methodologies to handle model uncertainty for building MPC. First, we propose a modeling framework for online estimation of states and unknown parameters leading to a parameter-adaptive building (PAB) model. Second, we propose a robust model predictive control (RMPC) formulation to make a building controller robust to model uncertainties. The results from these two approaches are compared with those from a nominal MPC and a common building rule based control (RBC). The results are then used to develop a methodology for selecting a controller type (i.e. RMPC, MPC, or RBC) as a function of building model uncertainty. RMPC is found to be the superior controller for the cases with an intermediate level of model uncertainty (30-67%), while the nominal MPC is preferred for the cases with a low level of model uncertainty (0-30%). Further, a common RBC outperforms MPC or RMPC if the model uncertainty goes beyond a certain threshold (e.g. 67%). © 2014 The Authors.

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Energy and Buildings