Wind farms have been paid a record £43 million to switch off turbines so far this year, after Britain’s electricity network was unable to cope with the power they produced.
The rising total of so-called “constraint payments” to wind is already a third higher than the entire 2013 total, with two months of the year still to go.
The payments, which are funded by consumer energy bill surcharges, reflect the problem of rapid construction of wind farms across the country without sufficient cable networks to carry the power produced.
The overwhelming majority of the payments to date have been to wind farms in Scotland, where the bulk of wind farms are located.
Electricity demand in Scotland is insufficient to use much of the power produced on windy days, but cable networks to take the power south of the border are not yet ready. As a result National Grid has to pay the wind farm owners to stop generating in order to keep supply and demand balanced.
High winds last month led to what the wind industry body Renewable UK called an “outstanding October for wind energy”, including providing a daily record of 24 per cent of the UK’s electricity needs on Oct 20.
But analysis of official figures by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a group critical of wind subsidies, found that the high winds last month also set new daily records for compensation, with an unprecedented £3.07 million being paid to 33 wind farms to switch off on Oct 26.
A multi-billion pound programme of network upgrades to strengthen the connections to and across Scotland is currently under way and National Grid suggests the payments should subside when these new connections are in place.
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