Campaigners claim large companies benefit from net-zero cachet but that the public picks up cost of constraint payments
Large companies have been accused of pushing up electricity bills for the public by backing wind farms.
Amazon, Tesco and Kimberly-Clark, the American paper group, are among the multinationals that buy electricity produced by renewable power to meet their net-zero targets, according to Scotland Against Spin, a pressure group.
The campaigners claim many wind farms are not needed and say the facilities attract millions of pounds in subsidies when the National Grid goes beyond peak supply and turbines are stopped.
Constraint payments have become a significant part of the energy business as the number of wind farms grows without a matching upgrade to grid capacity.
John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a think tank, said electricity bill payers were in effect subsidising businesses that take power from Scottish wind farms.

The REF collates data for constraint payments and Constable said: “The 2023 totals confirm our view that weak regulation of wind constraint pricing has resulted in a strong perverse incentive for wind developers to choose sites behind grid bottlenecks in Scotland, at the expense of consumers. This is a scandalous mess.”

His investigation found that wind farms serving Amazon, Tesco and Kimberly-Clark were paid more than £4 million in 2023 to shut down turbines. He said all constraint payments were passed on to consumers in their bills.
Aileen Jackson, of Scotland Against Spin, said the situation was “intolerable”. She said the Scottish government had waved through wind farms far beyond local demand for electricity.
“Why is Scotland having to put up with all these wind farms when we are not going to need it,” she asked. “A lot of developers choose the north of Scotland because they know the grid is not up to scratch so they are much more likely to get constraint payments.”
She added: “It’s an absolute scandal. Why should we be paying for this? It’s all a moneymaking exercise.”
Amazon buys electricity from onshore wind farms in Lanarkshire and Argyll and also has a deal to buy half the output from the Moray West offshore farm, which is due to open next year.
Tesco buys renewable power from a wind farm in Caithness while Kimberly-Clark purchases electricity from a wind farm in Lanarkshire.
The companies believe that upgrades to the National Grid are more urgent than ending constraint payments.
Tesco said it did not profit from constraint payments. It said: “The wind farm [in Caithness] increases the UK’s overall renewable capacity and would not have been possible without Tesco’s long-term commitment to purchase green energy.”
Amazon said: “To reduce grid constraints and increase the deployment of renewable energy across the UK, it is important for transmission infrastructure to expand quickly. We are working with policymakers and regulators to accelerate these changes.”
Kimberly-Clark said that while the company received renewable energy from its Lanarkshire wind farm, it did not receive the constraint payments.

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