Wind farms were paid £8.7million to switch off their turbines last month because they generated too much electricity
Every day we’re urged to be more and more energy conscious.
But it has been revealed that wind farms were paid £8.7 million to switch off last month because there wasn’t enough demand for the energy they generated.
And the National Grid has been making the ‘constraint payments’ for years, with £32 million paid in the last year to keep the turbines powered down.
According to the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), the ‘largest monthly amount paid for wind farms not to generate (£8.7 million)’ was in March of this year.
The turbines were shut down because, during periods of increased electricity generation and low-peak usage, there is not enough demand for energy.
There is currently no adequate method to store the large amounts of energy they produce when it’s not being used, so the turbines must be turned off.
The ‘constraint payments’ are made to operators of various wind farms to stop them generating the surplus electricity.
‘Wind farm constraints are essentially caused by difficulties in exporting excess wind electricity generated in Scotland,’ the REF states on their website.
‘In March 2014 approximately 12 per cent of the potential wind power output of large Scottish grid connected wind farms had to be constrained off the system, thus incurring costs to the consumer in the form of constraint payments.’
But the REF suggests that the wind industry is ‘attempting to conceal the scale of this market abuse, by claiming that wind power receives less in constraint payments than conventional generation.
‘This is untrue, and fails to convey the significant distinction between payments to conventional generators to start generating, and additional payments to wind power to stop generating.’
According to the National Grid, however, these payments are required to cope with periods of increased demand.
‘Constraint payments are made when there is congestion on the network,’ a spokesperson for the National Grid tells MailOnline.
‘It’s a bit like with motorways, you get jams but you wouldn’t necessarily build new motorways to eliminate the jams.
‘So using wind constraint payments we’re expecting that to work out as more cost-effective than building lots of new pylons and wires.’
‘Our job is to manage the electricity system minute by minute.
‘We choose whatever generation is the cheapest to constrain at a given time to keep costs as low as possible.
‘Constraint payments can be made for any number of reasons, including high winds or parts of the grid being out for maintenance or improvement work.’
The amount of constraint payments has increased considerably since March 2013 when they amounted to just £10,000.
The National Grid says this due to a number of factors including windier weather over the past year and more wind turbines coming online.
But they hope to reduce constraint payments by increasing the capabilities of the network in the next two years.
By 2016 they plan to complete the £1 billion Western Link project ‘that will have more than double the capacity from Scotland to England from 2.2GW in 2010 to 5.8GW in 2016.’
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