Wind turbines generate more cash when they’re switched OFF than when they’re working – with customers shouldering nearly £650 million in payments over a decade.
So-called ‘constraint payments’, a sort of compensation, have been paid to energy firms in charge of wind farms, when demand for electricity falls or winds are too strong for turbines to operate.
These costs are added to consumers’ electricity bills.
Most of the payments – totalling £649m since 2009 – have been levied to Scottish energy customers, with the vast majority of the UK’s onshore wind generated north of the border.
According to the Renewable Energy Foundation, 2018 was a record year for constraint payments, reaching a staggering £124,649,106 – surpassing the total in 2017 of £108,247,860.
Of this, £115,716,335 was paid to Scottish wind farms, and nearly all of that – £115,313,091 – went to onshore wind farms.
In 2018, several wind farms were switched off for around a quarter of the year.
Bhlaraidh wind farm near Fort Augustus, Scottish Highlands – which has 32 turbines – was constrained for 29 per cent of 2018.
Director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, John Constable, said the payments are “overwhelmingly a Scottish phenomenon”.
Constable said: “Constraint payments are predominantly paid to Scottish onshore wind farms.
“There’s a limited number to English and Welsh farms.
“It is overwhelmingly a Scottish phenomenon.
“Constraint payments first occurred in the UK market in 2010 and we were the first to report them.
“They occur because wind is subsidised, so they’re paid to be turned off because they’re not using wind.
“Wind is strange.
“Interestingly, because they’re in a strong market position they make more per unit than when they don’t sell than what they would sell per unit to the consumer.
“Analysts say they shouldn’t be compensated at all because it’s a commercial risk and I would support that position.
“The onshore costs to consumers are well over £100m per year.
“You can build more grid but that’s not a cheap solution and it’s very costly.

 


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