- National Wind Watch: Wind Energy News - https://www.wind-watch.org/news -

Wind farms paid £108M to be switched off

Wind farms are awarded more money for turning off their turbines than keeping them on, astonishing new figures reveal.

The UK facilities were paid a whopping £108million last year for not producing electricity so the National Grid could manage power supplies.

That is around 40 per cent more than they make for in subsidies for keeping the turbines going.

The figures were revealed by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a privately-backed think tank that is critical of wind farms.

And the payments – equivalent to around £2million a week – were described by the REF as “a scandal”.

Under the current system, operators are handed so-called constraint payments as compensation for shutting down to stop the grid from becoming overloaded.

That is particularly true in Scotland, where there has been a surge in the number of farms, encouraged by Holyrood.

Critics say the payments show the wind sector has become “overheated”, with the extra costs ultimately passed on to the taxpayer through higher bills.

The REF said the payments had soared over the past five years, from under £6million in 2012 to 2017’s record figure.

Dr Lee Moroney, lead researcher at the REF, said: “They make more money per megawatt hour (MWh) when they are told to stop generating than when they are selling electricity to customers.”

The foundation’s figures show wind farms make £70 per MWh for turning off their turbines, compared to an average of £49 per MWh in customer subsidies when producing power.

A National Grid spokesman said: “The National Grid can sometimes ask generators to come on or off the grid to keep the system balanced, ensuring that there is energy across the UK whenever and wherever it is needed.”

RenewableUK, a trade association for the industry, defended the payments but called for the Government to do more to modernise the grid.

Executive director Emma Pinchbeck said: “Wind farms are compensated because being told to switch off means a significant loss of revenue from generating power, and causes wear and tear on the turbines.”