One of the Big Six energy companies has been paid nearly £3 million to shut down the turbines of a new wind farm because the National Grid did not want its electricity, the Daily Telegraph can disclose.
EDF Energy was handed £2.99 million between April 29 and October to shut down turbines on the Fallago Rig wind farm, which is on land owned by the Duke of Roxburghe in Scottish Borders.
The “constraint payments”, which averaged around £500,000 per month, ultimately come from electricity bills and are given to wind farm companies for not producing energy during periods of high generation or low demand.
This usually happens when it is too windy, in order not to overload the National Grid, but can also occur when maintenance work on the Grid is being carried out.
The 48 – turbine development in the Lammermuir Hills started generated electricity in January but only completed testing and came fully online on May 17
Campaigners said the payments for not producing electricity – which spiked at more than £320,000 per day – demonstrated the consequences for consumers of Alex Salmond’s drive for wind energy north of the Border.
This is because the transmission network lacks the capacity to transport much of the electricity generated by wind farms in rural Scotland to urban centres in England where demand is highest.
Linda Holt, spokesman for anti-wind farm group Scotland Against Spin, said: “The massive constraint payments Scottish wind farms receive are the result of a skewed planning system which allows wind farms to be built before the infrastructure is in place to take all the energy they produce.
“Wind development in Scotland is out of control, wind speculators are mopping up millions in subsidies and we’re all paying for electricity we can’t even use.” The Duke of Roxburghe did not benefit from the constraint payments.
According to figures provided by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity that publishes information on the energy sector, around half the £3 million total was paid between April 29 and the middle of May when the wind farm became fully operational.
However, EDF continued to receive regular payments during summer when the warm weather would have led to relatively low demand. These included sums of more than £198,000 on June 30, £148,565 on August 17 and £171,801 on August 18.
Despite the much cooler temperatures, payments spiked again last month, totalling £402,814. This total included £92,102 on October 22 and £138,755 the following day.
A spokesman for French-owned EDF said all energy generators, regardless of the technology they use, have deals covering periods when the National Grid instructs them to temporarily decrease the power they produce.
“Such instructions from the National Grid are part of its daily management of the electricity system, as it works to ensure it maintains the right balance between generation and customer demand or to manage temporary technical limitations within the transmission network,” he said.
A National Grid spokesman said constraint payments to wind farm companies totalled £7 million in 2012/13, adding that this represented only four per cent of the £170 million given to all electricity generators.