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Wind farms paid £100m to switch power off

Wind farms were paid more than £100 million last year to switch off their turbines and NOT produce electricity, the Telegraph can disclose. ...Incredibly, the wind farms receive on average 40 per cent more cash when they are switched off than when they are producing electricity, according to an analysis of official figures.

Wind farms were paid more than £100 million last year to switch off their turbines and NOT produce electricity, the Telegraph can disclose.

The payments - equivalent to £2 million a week - were made to the big energy firms that own the giant wind farms. 

Incredibly, the wind farms receive on average 40 per cent more cash when they are switched off than when they are producing electricity, according to an analysis of official figures.

The think tank which carried out the study said it was “a scandal” that the big energy companies were more profitable when turned off. 

The turbines have to be shut down at certain times because Britain’s electricity network is unable to cope with the power they produce. The wind farm owners  then receive compensation - called ‘constraint payments’ - for not producing electricity.

The money is paid out by the National Grid but is ultimately charged to consumers and added on to electricity bills.

The scale of the constraint payments has ballooned in the past five years, according to the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), which carried out the research.

According to the REF, constraint payments totalled a record £108 million in 2017, compared to less than £6 million in 2012. In the past five years, wind farm owners have been paid £367 million in constraint payments.

Almost all the  payments were made to wind farms in Scotland which has seen a rapid growth in the industry. While England has largely put a brake on onshore farms, the Scottish government has continued to encourage the wind industry.

Dr Lee Moroney, REF’s lead researcher, said: “It is an absolute scandal. They make more per megawatt hour [unit of electricity generated] when they are told to stop generating than when they are selling electricity to consumers.”

REF research - based on official, publicly available data - shows that wind farms are currently being paid compensation of about £70 per megawatt hour (MWh) to switch off. In comparison they are typically paid £49 per MWh in a consumer subsidy when producing electricity. The subsidy was introduced to encourage a growth in renewable energy source and is added on to household electricity bills.

Whether supplying electricity or not, the wind farms also receive the wholesale price for the electricity they produce.

The REF pointed out that EDF Energy which owns Fallago Rig, a wind farm in Scotland, has lodged a plan to extend the wind farm even though it received one of the highest constraint payments last year. 

The National Grid said the wind constraint payments were “the most economically efficient way of managing additional green capacity”.

A spokesman said: “National Grid balances the country’s supply and demand of electricity minute by minute, and it also transports electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed. As part of its role, it can sometimes ask generators to come on or off the grid to keep the system balanced – ensuring that there is energy across the UK whenever and wherever it is needed.”

Emma Pinchbeck, RenewableUK’s Executive Director, said: “Constraint payments have been the cheapest way for National Grid to run the electricity network within its current limits. 

"Wind farms are compensated because being told to switch off means a significant loss of revenue from generating power, and causes wear and tear on the turbines."


Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/...

JAN 8 2018
http://www.windaction.org/posts/47716-wind-farms-paid-100m-to-switch-power-off
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