Scottish Daily Mail

£125m blown away

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

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

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