To mitigate climate destabilisation, global emissions of human-induced greenhouse gases urgently need to be reduced, to be nearly zeroed at the end of the century. Clear targets are set at European level for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and primary energy consumption and for the integration of renewable energy. Carbon dioxide emissions from fossil fuel combustion in the industry and energy sectors account for a major share of greenhouse gas emissions. Hence, a low carbon shift in industrial and business park energy systems is called for. Low carbon business parks minimise energy-related carbon dioxide emissions by enhanced energy efficiency, heat recovery in and between companies, maximal exploitation of local renewable energy production, and energy storage, combined in a collective energy system. Moreover, companies with complementary energy profiles are clustered to exploit energy synergies.The design of low carbon energy systems is facilitated using the holistic approach of techno-economic energy models. These models take into account the complex interactions between the components of an energy system and assist in determining an optimal trade-off between energetic, economic and environmental performances. In this work, existing energy model classifications are scanned for adequate model characteristics and accordingly, a confined number of energy models are selected and described. Subsequently, a practical categorisation is proposed, existing of energy system evolution, optimisation, simulation, accounting and integration models, while key model features are compared. Next, essential features for modelling energy systems at business park scale are identified:As a first key feature, a superstructure-based optimisation approach avoids the need for a priori decisions on the system’s configuration, since a mathematical algorithm automatically identifies the optimal configuration in a superstructure that embeds all feasible configurations. Secondly, the representation of time needs to incorporate sufficient temporal detail to capture important characteristics and peaks in time-varying energy demands, energy prices and operation conditions of energy conversion technologies. Thirdly, energy technologies need to be accurately represented at equipment unit level by incorporating part-load operation and investment cost subject to economy of scale in the model formulation. In addition, the benefits of installing multiple units per technology must be considered. A generic model formulation of technology models facilitates the introduction of new technology types. As a fourth important feature, the potential of thermodynamically feasible heat exchange between thermal processes needs to be exploited, while optimally integrating energy technologies to fulfil remaining thermal demands. For this purpose, thermal streams need to be represented by heat –temperature profiles. Moreover, restrictions to direct heat exchange between process streams need to be taken into account. Finally, the possibility for energy storage needs to be included to enhance the integration of non-dispatchable renewable energy technologies and to bridge any asynchrony between cooling and heating demands.Starting from these essential features, a techno-economic optimisation model (Syn-E-Sys), is developed customised for the design of low carbon energy systems on business park scale. The model comprises two sequential stages. In the first stage, heat recovery within the system is maximised, while energy supply and energy storage technologies are optimally integrated and designed to fulfil remaining energy requirements at minimum total annualised costs. Predefined variations in thermal and electrical energy demand and supply are taken into account, next to a carbon emission cap. At the same time, heat networks can be deployed to transfer heat between separate parts of the system. In the second stage, the model generates an optimal multi-period heat exchanger network enabling all required heat exchanges. Syn-E-Sys builds upon a multi-period energy integration model that can deal with restrictions in heat exchange. It is combined with a generic technology model, that features part-load operation as well as investment cost subject to economy of scale, and a generic energy storage model. The technology model can be manipulated to represent various thermal or electrical energy conversion technology units, and serves as a building block to model more complex technologies. The storage model covers electrical as well as thermal energy storage, taking into account the effect of hourly energy losses on the storage level, without increasing the number of time steps to be analysed. For this purpose, time sequence is introduced by dividing the year into a set of time slices and assigning them to a hierarchical time structure. In addition, a more complex model for storage of sensible heat is integrated, consisting of a stack of interconnected virtual tanks. To enable the optimisation of the number of units per technology in the energy system configuration, an automated superstructure expansion procedure is incorporated. Heat transfer unit envelope curves are calculated to facilitate the choice of appropriate temperature levels for heat networks. Heat networks that are embedded within this envelope, completely avoid the increase in energy requirements that would result from the heat exchange restrictions between separated parts of the energy system. Finally, the heat exchanger network is automatically generated using a multi-period stage-wise superstructure.Two problems inherent to the heat cascade formulation are encountered during model development. As a first issue, heat networks can form self-sustaining energy loops if their hot and cold streams are not completely embedded within the envelope. This phenomenon is referred to in this work as phantom heat. As a second issue, the heat cascade formulation does not prevent that a thermal storage releases its heat to a cooling technology.To demonstrate the specific features of Syn-E-Sys and its holistic approach towards the synthesis of low carbon energy systems, the model is applied to a generic case study and to a case study from literature. The generic case study is set up to demonstrate the design of an energy system including non-dispatchable renewable energy and energy storage, subject to a carbon emission cap. For this purpose, the year is subdivided into a set of empirically defined time slices that are connected to a hierarchical time structure composed of seasons, daytypes and intra-daily time segments. The results obtained by Syn-E-Sys show a complex interaction between energy supply, energy storage and energy import/export to fulfil energy demands, while keeping carbon emissions below the predefined cap. The model enables optimisation of the intra-annual charge pattern and the capacity of thermal and electrical storage. Moreover, an optimal heat exchanger network is automatically generated. In the second case study, heat recovery is optimised for a drying process in the paper industry. To avoid the energy penalty due to heat exchange restrictions between two separated process parts, heat transfer units need to be optimally integrated. Firstly, a simplified version of the original problem is set up in Syn-E-Sys and the obtained results correspond well to literature. Subsequently, the original problem is extended to demonstrate the optimal integration of heat transfer units in a multi-period situation. In conclusion, Syn-E-Sys facilitates optimal design of low carbon energy systems on business park scale, taking into account the complex time-varying interactions between thermal and electrical energy demand, supply and storage, while the potential for heat recovery is fully exploited.