More than £300m has been paid in compensation for wind turbines to lie idle in Scotland, sparking calls for an end to the green energy “subsidy junket”.
John Constable, director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, claims that since 2011, about £328m has been paid to wind farms not to generate – most of them in Scotland.
In an article online, Constable argues that Scotland’s 3,000 wind turbines produce more energy than is needed north of the border. The remoteness of many wind farms means the power they generate cannot be transported to England and Wales.
Consequently, turbines are routinely powered down to avoid producing excess energy, yet operators are still paid generous subsidies via consumers’ bills.
Constable urges the Westminster government to “put its foot down” and stop Holyrood giving consent for new wind farms and extensions in Scotland, “or at least ensure that if MSPs want to play fast and loose with consumer bills, those should be Scottish bills. That might focus minds”.
Last night, a spokesman for Paul Wheelhouse, the energy minister, said the system of support cited by Constable, known as the Renewables Obligation, was closed to new generating capacity in March.
He said: “Onshore wind is not only helping tackle greenhouse gas emissions but is the cheapest way to produce low-carbon electricity and is competing strongly on price with other forms of generation. That is clearly in the interests of consumers across the whole GB electricity market.”
Jenny Hogan, deputy chief executive of Scottish Renewables, said: “Onshore wind power – now the cheapest form of new power generation – provides the bulk of Scotland’s renewable electricity, displaces millions of tonnes of harmful emissions and is supporting thousands of jobs while attracting billions of pounds of investment.
“It’s popular, affordable and effective.”
There are about 750 wind farms in Scotland capable of generating up to 5,700 megawatts of energy, which is slightly higher than total peak demand.
In addition, electricity is produced from nuclear power plants and hydro stations. Plans are afoot to improve Scotland’s ability to export renewable energy across Britain with the Western Link, a subsea connector from Hunterston to Deeside that is set to come online this year at a cost of more than £1bn.
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