First Minister Alex Salmond has reaffirmed the Scottish Government’s commitment to renewable energy – despite wind farm operators being paid millions last month to switch off their turbines.
Research from the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) claims four energy companies shared the payments after being asked to switch off their turbines 16 times throughout May because the National Grid could not cope with the electrical energy they were producing.
Each time a turbine has to be shut down, its owner receives compensation called a “constraint payment.” The single most expensive day in terms of payouts to turbine operators was May 24, when seven wind farms were shut down for a total of 69 hours. £613,000 was paid out in compensation.
It is understood turbines were switched off again on June 1 and 2, but the cost of those has not been calculated. However, a spokeswoman for the REF said over £4 million has been paid to switch off turbines this year.
She added, “It is usual for National Grid to ask generators to reduce output but the fossil-fuelled generators pay National Grid when constrained rather than get paid. This is because they save on the fuel costs they would otherwise incur.”
Despite these difficulties, Mr Salmond said Scotland remains on course to generate all electricity from renewable sources by 2020. He was speaking at the official opening of two new wind farms in South Ayrshire.
Ignacio Galan, chairman of ScottishPower Renewables’ parent company Iberdrola, also attended the opening of the 28-turbine Mark Hill and 60-turbine Arecleoch sites, near Barrhill.
Together they could provide enough energy for 100,000 homes.
ScottishPower Renewables operates 24 wind farms across the UK, 15 of which are in Scotland.
Mr Salmond said, “The opening of the Arecleoch and Mark Hill wind farms here in South Ayrshire is a significant milestone for ScottishPower Renewables. It also underlines both the rapid progress Scotland has made in clean-energy generation and our industry’s leading role in the wider development of a genuinely low-carbon economy across Europe.
“There are seven gigawatts of renewables capacity currently installed, under construction or consented around Scotland, enabling us to exceed our target of meeting 31% of our electricity use in 2011 from renewables. It is through the leadership of companies such as ScottishPower Renewables that we have made such progress and why, as we increasingly develop our offshore energy resources, I am confident we will achieve our target for Scotland to generate from renewables the equivalent of 100% of our own electricity needs by 2020.”
Mr Galan said, “For ScottishPower Renewables, today is an especially satisfying day because we have reached the 1000 megawatt mark in wind-energy generation. This clearly shows our commitment to clean energy and sustainable development in Scotland. Our company is deeply committed to Scotland, and seeks to be a driver of growth and development.”
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