Scots wind farms have been handed more than £5million this week because it has been too windy.
The huge sum – equivalent to £873,476 every day – was paid out because the National Grid cannot handle the extra energy turbines produce during gales.
The so-called “constraint payments” are paid by consumers through a subsidy added on to electricity bills.
Latest figures show £58million was handed out to power firms across the UK over the past 12 months for shutting down turbines.
The scale of the payments has soared in the last three years, according to the think-tank Renewable Energy Foundation (REF).
In 2012, wind farms were paid £5.9million to switch off. On Monday £1,452,629 alone was given to wind farm operators north of the Border.
Scotland has been battered by hurricane-force winds of up to 84mph, causing widespread power cuts and structural damage.
Critics said the figures undermine SNP claims that wind energy can help Scotland to produce 100 per cent of its energy from green sources by 2020.
Although energy policy is reserved to Westminster, the Scottish Government has used its control over the planning system to encourage the construction of thousands of turbines.
Scottish Tory energy spokesman Murdo Fraser said: “This is an incredible financial bonus for a form of energy that is unreliable and intermittent.
“Taxpayers will be appalled at this spend, particularly as a reward for effectively doing nothing.
“It shows why the UK Government was quite right to end the subsidy for wind farms and put the brakes on this gravy train before it gets out of hand.”
Scotland hosts more than half the UK’s onshore turbines but demand is insufficient to use much of the power produced on windy days.
Cable networks to take the power south of the Border are not yet ready.
National Grid has to pay the wind farm owners to stop generating in order to keep supply and demand balanced. Some of the cash has gone to Spanish-owned ScottishPower, for its Whitelee wind farm near Eaglesham, Renfrewshire.
Whitelee – the largest wind farm in Britain with 215 turbines – received £1.1million in total since last weekend.
Dr Lee Moroney, research director of the REF, said: “Paying wind farms not to generate has always seemed outrageous.
“The increase has meant that more has been paid than any other year.
“Each year it is going up.”
Michael Rieley, senior policy manager at industry body Scottish Renewables, said: “Constraint payments are not new nor restricted only to wind farms.
“National Grid pays a variety of technologies to reduce or increase output as required to balance the system.
“These payments are a normal part of the overall efficient management of our electricity system, given the limitations of the UK’s ageing energy infrastructure.”
The Scottish Government last night said that the National Grid figures show gas power stations had received £101.4million in constraint payments over the last year.
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