Alex Salmond hailed it as a green revolution that would create clean energy and more jobs.
But wind farms are now raking in more public cash than ever before – for not generating electricity at all.
Energy firms are paid compensation to shut down their turbines when the grid is unable to cope with the amount being produced.
New figures show 86 wind farms across the UK were together handed more than £136million in so-called ‘constraint payments’ in 2019 – a new annual record.
It tops 2018’s bill by £12million, with the bulk (£127million) going to Scottish-based operators.
This marks the tenth year in which wind farms have received such payments, costing UK taxpayers a total of £646million over the decade.
The figures have been branded an embarrassment by opposition politicians, who are demanding a fresh approach by the Scottish Government to its ‘green revolution’.
Because of a rapid growth in wind power, particularly in Scotland, the total paid has increased year on year in spite of grid reinforcements.
Alexander Burnett, the Scottish Conservative energy spokesman, said: ‘The fact that the SNP are still allowing wind farms to expand despite this staggeringly high level of constraint payments already in operation is astonishing. Indeed, this absurd situation simply demonstrates the foolishness of the SNP’s renewable energy policy.’
The Scottish wind farms that received the subsidy include several that are looking to expand.
Onshore wind farm operators receive constraint payments to power down turbines when supply outstrips local demand and bottlenecks in the grid prevent exports. The money is paid out by National Grid but is charged to consumers and added to electricity bills.
In recent years the increase in the number of green energy suppliers in the market has led to the National Grid being overloaded.
New data analysed by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a charity that monitors the market, shows that six of Scotland’s wind farms shared around 50 per cent of the bumper £127million payout this year.
Beneficiaries included Lanarkshire’s Clyde wind farm, Kilgallioch wind farm in Ayrshire, and Whitelee, Renfrewshire – Europe’s largest farm, with 215 active turbines.
Two farms – Whitelee and Clyde – received nearly a third of the decade’s total, taking £108million and £80million respectively.
Holyrood energy minister Paul Wheelhouse said: ‘Adding more demand load onto the grid, as we electrify Scotland’s own transport and heating systems, will reduce the need for constraint payments.
‘The importance of continued grid investment to facilitate transmission cannot be overstated.’
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