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Windfarm owners payday to halt turbines

Windfarm operators have been paid a record-breaking £3.1million – simply for switching off their turbines for a single day.

Energy giants received the “constraint” payment because strong winds meant they produced more electricity than Scotland needed over a 24-hour period.

The controversial UK Government scheme sees the National Grid pay companies when surplus power is generated or when the network is overloaded.

Anti-windfarm campaigners last night said it was “disgusting” consumers would foot such a huge bill for the devices lying idle.

The record payment was made after windfarms produced the equivalent of 106 per cent of the nation’s power on Sunday, August 7.

With winds of up to 115mph at the top of the Cairngorms, Scotland’s turbines provided 39,545MWh of electricity, while just 37,202MWh was consumed.

The total payout for that one day will cost electricity customers £3,137,704 – up on the previous record of £3,030,977 on Sunday, October 26, 2014..

In a further insult to consumers, firms will also get an additional £1million for electricity they were prevented from generating because it was not needed.

The compensation scheme has operated since April 2011 and since then more than £235.3million has been paid out.

Industry expert Stuart Young said: “I was disgusted how people were crowing about how much electricity had been generated by wind when customers are going to be hit so hard in their pockets.

“The number of megawatt hours wasted – constrained off – was 46,150. That’s equivalent to what the whole of the UK consumes in an hour in winter.

“When people realise what’s being done to them, to benefit a small number of wealthy people for no environmental benefit, they’re going to be very angry.”

But World Wildlife Fund Scotland director Lang Banks called for improvements to the National Grid by increasing its storage capacity.

He said: “Those concerned about payments to power firms to reduce their output should be supporting our calls to see improvements to the grid, stronger interconnectors and more energy storage capacity such as pumped hydro.”

James Court, the head of policy and external affairs for the Renewable Energy Association, has previously accused the Westminster government of standing in the way of green energy.

He said: “We’ve seen in the last year both wind and solar projects built without government subsidy.

“The new capacity market regime is being rolled out to subsidise new gas plants, which cannot be without government intervention.”

A spokesman for the Scottish Government said: “Constraint payments such as these demonstrate the urgent need for further investment in the electricity transmission network across Britain to ensure it can meet the needs of the 21st century.

“A major programme of grid investment worth billions of pounds is already under way in Scotland.”