In the last years, the increased demand of the energy market has led to the increasing penetration of renewable energies, in order to achieve the primary energy supply. Simultaneously, natural gas is predicted to play a vital and strategic role in the energy market, on account of its lower environmental impact than other fossil fuels, both as gaseous fuel for stationary energy generation and as liquefied fuel. In particular, the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) is becoming interesting in transports as an alternative to diesel fuel, allowing a decrease in pollutant emissions and a reduction in fuel’s costs for the users. As a consequence, in this context, the LNG production process can be seen as an electrical storage system by the integration with renewables, becoming an interesting solution to avoid the issues related to intermittency and unpredictability of renewables.
The aim of the paper is the development of a calculation code and the evaluation of the off-design operation of a LNG production plant coupled with wind renewable energy sources. With this purpose, on the basis of mathematical models from literature, a dedicated calculation code has been developed, able to thermodynamically analyze both design and off-design operation of the integrated process. In addition, in this study the proposed model is employed to investigate the correct integration between renewables and LNG generation, in order to define the optimal choice of the wind size for a given LNG production plant. With this purpose, the LNG plant size of a real prototype has been considered and an economic analysis has been carried out, accounting for the revenue of the LNG sale, the costs for NG purchase, for operation and maintenance and for the initial investment costs, but also with the aim to minimize the electricity introduction into the grid, considered in this study as a penalty.