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04/04/2014

Scottish wind farms paid record sum to stop working

Words: Huw Morris
A wind farm in Scotland

Scottish wind farms were paid a record £8.7 million last month to turn off their turbines, according to latest research.

The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) said March also saw 107 gigawatts of wind energy "constrained" off the National Grid, triggering the payments.
 
The Foundation, which campaigns against wind farms, said the constraints are essentially caused by difficulties in exporting excess wind electricity generated in Scotland. Around 12 per cent of the potential wind power output of large Scottish grid connected farms had to be constrained off the system.
 
The average price charged by wind farms to reduce output in March was £80 per megawatt. Wind farms charge this sum as compensation for lost subsidy while not generating. The REF argues that since other energy-generating industries don't have this option, it is unfair that the wind industry alone should be compensated. The first quarter of 2014 has seen £13.7 million paid to wind farms to reduce output, a record in itself according to the Foundation.
 
The research comes amid reports that prime minister David Cameron was considering placing new limits on onshore turbines in the next Conservative election manifesto. RenewableUK, which represents the industry, called on Cameron to "put a stop to these deeply unhelpful leaks".
 
Deputy chief executive Maf Smith said: "The message going out is that if a vocal minority complain about popular, much-needed infrastructure the prime minister is unwilling to defend it. That’s bad for investor confidence across the board.
 
“Nearly 19,000 people work in the British onshore wind industry – and that number is set to double over the next 10 years unless the government blows it. Irresponsible, unattributed rumours like this play with all of their jobs.
 
"Investors will be shaking their heads in disbelief as the Tory party wilfully damages confidence in one of Britain’s flagship new industries. Mr Cameron needs to act firmly and stop some of his MPs using wind energy as a football in their short-term playground politics.”
 
Meanwhile, new research by the independent Pew Charitable Trust, Who’s Winning the Clean Energy Race?,  reveals investment in the British wind industry increased by nearly 50 per cent last year to £3.5 billion. Investment in all clean energy technologies grew by 13 per cent to £7.5 billion, the fourth highest among G20 countries.

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