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Windfarm operators are due windfall after storm  

Credit:  ALISON CAMPSIE, www.heraldscotland.com 14 September 2011 ~~

Windfarm operators are due a windfall in the wake of Hurricane Katia after a number of turbines were forced to shut down at the height of the storm for creating too much electricity for the system to handle.

A total of 13 windfarms across the country powered down over the weekend and in the early hours of Monday as wind speeds reached almost 90mph in some parts, overloading the National Grid.

It is thought turbine sites at Black Law near Shotts and Ben Beinn Tharsuinn, north of Alness in the Highlands, were among those that came off the grid.

Operators, including Scottish Power Renewables, are in line for “constraint payments” from the National Grid to compensate for income loss.

The development comes as Scotland counts the cost of the storm, with insurers likely to pay out “tens of millions of pounds”. Retail sales plunged by an estimated £8 million north of the border on Monday as shoppers stayed at home, according to one report.

By contrast, renewables firms could benefit by hundreds of thousands of pounds. The most recent payments for windfarm operators are still being calculated but recent analysis found that energy operators in Scotland received compensation totalling £4.36m between May 2010 and June this year after shutting off windfarms from the grid.

Payments worth £2.6m were awarded in May alone following 80mph winds that caused power cuts and serious disruption, the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) said.

While windfarm operators are paid a subsidy of around £50 per MWh hour to put power into the grid, they are being offered sometimes six times that to temporarily come out of the system, REF said. Often, the operators themselves ask for far more in the first instance as part of a bidding process.

Scottish Renewables said investment was needed in the grid to remove constraints on the system.

Chief Executive Niall Stuart said: “This is not a new situation: thermal generation has been required to be ‘constrained off’ when supply has exceeded the capacity of the network for many years.

“However, it clearly highlights the need to invest in grid upgrades.”

Source:  ALISON CAMPSIE, www.heraldscotland.com 14 September 2011

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