Three Stewartry windfarm operators were paid nearly £2 million last year to
turn off turbines.
And they’ve been handed more than £3 million between them in constraint
payments over the past five years.
Renewable Energy Foundation figures reveal the cash was paid to the
operators of Robin Rigg, Brockloch Rigg 2 and Blackcraig.
The money is handed out when the windfarms have to be switched off due to
supply outstripping demand, congested networks or high winds.
REF director, Dr John Constable, said: “Windfarms should not be compensated
at all when asked to stop generating and they certainly should not receive
a large premium over and above the lost income.
“This is taking advantage of the consumer. It is a mystery to me why the
regulator, Ofgem, has not been firmer about the matter.”
The figures reveal that 11 windfarms in Dumfries and Galloway received a
total of £13,375,000 in 2018.
The biggest Stewartry beneficiary was the 60 turbine Robin Rigg development
in the Solway Firth, operated by E.ON. They received around £1 million in
constraint payments last year and a total of £2.4 million since 2013.
The operators of Brockloch Rig 2 received £690,000 last year and have been
handed nearly £800,000 since 2017. The 30-turbine windfarm was an extension
to Windy Standard, which has 36 turbines and involved Fred Olsen
Renewables. The whole project is now run by Brockloch Rig Ltd.
The operators of the 23-turbine Blackcraig development in the Glenkens have
received £265,000 in constraint payments since it began operating last
year. In the summer it was sold by Blue Energy to Noir Holdings Ltd, which
is affiliated to Temporis Capital Ltd.
A spokesman for the National Grid said a new connection between Scotland
and Wales called the Western Link should help tackle the problem.
He said: “The link is delivering up to 2250MW of power transfer capability
from Scotland to England and Wales.
“The project is in the early days of operation but will significantly
reduce the levels of constraint payments being made to wind generators. It
is not possible to put a cost saving on this due to the unpredictability of
future wind generation.”
Galloway and West Dumfries MSP, Finlay Carson, said: “These figures
undermine the case for any new windfarm developments or expansions in the
Stewartry region where we already have more than our fair share of
windfarms. Wind has the potential to produce much of our energy however it
is clear that there needs to be a balanced approach to our energy needs
that provides energy security when the wind doesn’t blow and value for money.”
South of Scotland MSP Emma Harper said it was a more complex issue than
operators being paid money to switch off and part of the problem was the
connection between windfarms and the grid. She highlighted the possible new
powerline between Kendoon and Tongland as one way to tackle the issue and
was in talks with activists keen to see the route put underground.
She added: “I am aware some people say that if constraint payments are so
high do we need wind farms in the first place but wind power is renewable,
“It is not nuclear, which has issues with waste, and it is not coal, which
China is having issues with.”