By Victoria Ward, The Telegraph, www.telegraph.co.uk 1 May 2011
Wind farms operators were paid £900,000 by the National Grid to disconnect their turbines for one night because the electricity was not needed.
The payments, worth up to 20 times the value of the power they would have produced, raises serious concerns about such subsidies, which are paid for by the customer.
The six Scottish wind farms were asked to stop producing electricity on a particularly windy night last month as the National Grid was overloaded.
Their transition cables do not have the capacity to transfer the power to England and so they were switched off and the operators received compensation. One operator received £312,000, while another benefited by £263,000.
The payments were discovered by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a green think tank, which accused the Government of building too many wind farms in northern Britain.
John Constable, director of policy and research, said not enough care had been taken to ensure there were enough high-voltage cables to transfer the power to other parts of the UK when it was needed.
“Hasty attempts to meet targets for renewable energy mean some Scottish wind farms are now in the extraordinary position of not only printing money when they generate, but printing it even faster when they throw their energy away,” he told the Sunday Times.
The average turbine is understood to generate power worth about £150,000 a year, but is awarded incentives in the form of subsidies worth £250,000.
Such payments were intended as a way to pay householders above market rates to generate electricity from solar panels and small wind turbines on their roofs.
But in February, Chris Huhne, the Energy Secretary, announced a review of financial subsidies for renewable electricity after large-scale “photovoltaic farms” began springing up all over the countryside.
The operators which halted production and benefited from the payments last month include Scottish Power, which owns Whitelee wind farm near Glasgow and Npower Renewables, which runs Farr wind farm near Inverness.
A spokesman from the National Grid confirmed the payments. He said: “On the night of April 5 and 6, the demand for power was low but the nuclear generation plants in Scotland were running as expected. There was also heavy rainfall, which meant hydro power plants were operating well, too.”
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