Wind farm operators were paid a record £4.8 million to switch off their turbines for one day after it became too windy.
In extreme weather conditions, when there are exceptional levels of wind, the National Grid is unable to handle the amount of extra energy produced by wind turbines and are therefore given “constraint payments” to switch turbines off.
Conditions on 8th October meant that over 60 farms, predominantly in Scotland, were paid £4.8 million for electricity they did not produce – far beyond the previous record of £3.1 million, which has generated fresh criticism of the Scottish Government’s single-minded approach to renewable energy.
“The high costs of wind farm constraints result from the Scottish government’s unbalanced enthusiasm for wind power,” said John Constable, director of London’s Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a charity that has criticised wind power subsidies.
“In a striking example of democratic deficit, these costs are paid for predominantly by English and Welsh consumers, who have no votes in Holyrood. As history shows, “taxation without representation” is politically unstable. This simply has to stop.”
REF analysis shows that 63 windfarms were compensated for weather conditions on 8th October, with the biggest payout of £663,638 going to Scottish and Southern Energy’s Clyde wind farm in South Lancashire.
Although the majority of the UK’s wind power is generated in Scotland, payments are funded by energy bills from across Britain.
This year, constraint payments to wind power have continuously broken records, first when the £3.1 million mark was reached in July, then again when these hit £3.4 million on 2nd October and finally one week later when payments hit £4.8 million.
Payments to wind power appear to be on an upwards trend after last year’s annual record at £108 million looks set to be smashed after September’s monthly record of £28.4 million.
These trends call to question how long the renewable industry can be subsidised without accepting the importance of using fossil fuels to provide baseload power.