£125m blown away

Bo­nanza for firms paid to switch off tur­bines when it’s too windy

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Gra­ham Grant Home Af­fairs Ed­i­tor

WIND farms were paid a record £125mil­lion last year to switch off tur­bines – be­cause it was too windy.

In very windy con­di­tions, the creak­ing Na­tional Grid can­not cope with the ex­tra en­ergy tur­bines pro­duce, so firms get ‘con­straint pay­ments’ to tem­po­rar­ily shut them down.

Na­tional Grid fig­ures show that con­straint pay­ments to UK wind farm op­er­a­tors hit £124.6mil­lion last year – 15 per cent more than the pre­vi­ous high­est sum of £108.3mil­lion in 2017.

Most of last year’s con­straint cash was handed to sites north of the Bor­der.

John Con­sta­ble, of the Re­new­able En­ergy Foun­da­tion (REF), which gath­ered the data, said the hand­outs raised ques­tions about the West­ern Link, from Ayr­shire to north Wales, con­structed to ex­port Scot­tish wind en­ergy to the south and re­duce con­straint pay­ments.

It en­tered ser­vice in Oc­to­ber, al­most three years late.

Mr Con­sta­ble said: ‘In spite of the com­mis­sion­ing of the West­ern Link, con­straints are con­tin­u­ing.

‘Pay­ments in No­vem­ber and De­cem­ber were £9.1mil­lion and £10.4mil­lion re­spec­tively, com­pared with £9mil­lion and £8.3mil­lion for the same months in 2017.

‘Although it is too soon to say defini­tively, this is not en­cour­ag­ing as to the ef­fec­tive­ness of the in­ter­con­nec­tor.’

Mr Con­sta­ble said the so­lu­tion was to stop giv­ing the hand­outs to wind farm firms. REF said Scot­tish wind farms dis­carded enough elec­tric­ity last year to power 500,000 house­holds for a year af­ter be­ing paid to shut down.

Scot­tish Tory en­ergy spokesman Alexan­der Bur­nett said: ‘These fig­ures un­der­mine the case for any new [wind power] de­vel­op­ments.

‘Scot­land needs a bal­anced en­ergy port­fo­lio for those many, many days when the wind doesn’t blow and it is quite clear that the cur­rent SNP strat­egy is poor value for pub­lic money.’

Ofgem, the en­ergy reg­u­la­tor, said in­vest­ment in in­fra­struc­ture such as the West­ern Link would help re­duce con­straints.

En­ergy Min­is­ter Paul Wheel­house said: ‘Con­straint pay­ments are made by Na­tional Grid, un­der a reg­u­la­tory model de­ter­mined by UK min­is­ters.

‘In 2017, Scot­land’s re­new­able elec­tric­ity gen­er­a­tors were able to meet the equiv­a­lent of a record 70.1 per cent of Scot­land’s own elec­tric­ity de­mand.

‘We will en­sure strate­gic de­ci­sions sup­port this val­ued sec­tor.’

Com­ment – Page 16

En­ergy gi­ants: But power com­pa­nies be­lieve wind farms are the fu­ture

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