From the Sussex coast ten miles away, the matchstick frames of the Rampion wind farm’s turbines gently interrupt the blue block of sea and sky.
Opened in 2018 by the German energy giant E.ON, the farm was the first to be built in the south of England, part of the ongoing boom in renewable power that is helping to slash UK carbon emissions.
Local opponents, raising the alarm over harm to fish, birds and the view, were won over or sidelined in the pursuit of the bigger goal of green energy.
Today, the people of Sussex have another reason to eye the turbines with a little anger: wind farms are raking in an increasing proportion of their cash.
RWE, the Germany energy giant which now owns Rampion, made €859m profits from offshore wind in the first three quarters of 2022, up from €656m last year. Scottish Power, owned by Spain’s Iberdrola, saw profits from its renewables climb from £184.5m to £263.4m in the six months to the end of June.
Profits at EDF’s renewables division, which owns several UK wind farms, climbed 70pc to €500m over the first half of the year.. Better wind speeds and in some cases new projects have also helped, but the impact of rising electricity prices is clear.
It is the older wind farms in the UK that are in line for the fattest profits. Before 2017, wind farm developers took their own risk on prices, gambling that they could sell the electricity generated at a high enough price to make the venture worth it. Operators were incentivised to get into the market with hefty subsidies, which they still receive.
The Government is now trying to re-shape the market, to try and break the link between the price of renewable generation and the price of gas-fired generation. Moving more generators onto CfDs is seen by some as one solution.
However, despite current high prices, some recommend a cautious response to exceptional circumstances.
“I think this whole discussion about saying, the market is broken, it’s not fit for purpose – we should really be careful about saying that,” says Asgeir Heimisson, senior research associate at Aurora Energy, who argues that the market has effectively responded to scarcity.
“Forecasts show that prices are going to go down again.”
Households looking for the cost benefit from renewable energy, however, may not be willing to wait very long.…/how-past-mistakes…/

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