More than £100 million was paid out to energy firms that own wind farms last year to switch off their turbines and stop producing electricity, according to new research.
According to analysis of official figures, the wind farms generate an average of 40% more funds when their turbines are turned off than when they are running.
Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), the think tank that undertook the research, described it as a “scandal” that companies were paid for turning off turbines when there is a lack of demand for energy, such as nighttime when the need for electricity is low.
The compensation paid to wind farmers when turbines are turned off, known as ‘constraint payments’ is paid by the National Grid but is ultimately charged to consumers through electricity bills.
According to the think tank, the amount paid out has ballooned over the past five years from just below £6 million in 2012 to £108 million in 2017.
A total of £367 million was spent on constraint payments in the past five years – most of which is payed to farms in Scotland where the government has actively encouraged the industry, while the rest of Britain held back on onshore wind farms.
These figures equate to wind farms earning £70 per megawatt hour (MWh) when switched off compared to £49 per MWh when active.
The report highlighted the fact that EDF Energy put forward plans to extend its Fallago Rig, its wind farm in Scotland, despite the fact it earnt its highest levels of constrain payments last year.
Dr Lee Moroney, REF’s lead researcher, said: “It is an absolute scandal. They make more per megawatt hour when they are told to stop generating than when they are selling electricity to consumers.”