Wind farm operators were paid £2.6m to keep their wind turbines idle in May, in addition to the £900,000 they were paid in April. National Grid, the operator of the power network made the payments which are ultimately paid for by the consumer.
The power network development by the National Grid has not kept pace with the construction of wind farms as many are in Scotland and the larger demand for electricity is in England. The National Grid claimed the £900,000 payments in April were ‘exceptional’ and Charles Hendry, the energy minister also described them as an ‘anomaly’. Clearly not quite correct from either party!
Research undertaken by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) has revealed four energy companies were paid to switch off their turbines on 16 different ocasions in May. Seven wind farms came off-line on May 24 for a total of 69 hours costing the grid, but ultimately the consumer £613,000.
Scottish and Southern Energy was paid £1m to shut the 52 turbine Hadyard Hill wind farm for effectively six days in May.
Scottish Power was paid £720,000 for shutting three wind farms, including Whitelee in Ayrshire which is the largest onshore wind farm in Europe. This comes after Scottish Power announced a 10% increase in electricity prices last week!
Should planning applications and the subsequent construction of new onshore and offshore wind farms be put on hold until the National Grid can catch up? On one occasion in May, infrastructure problems meant Scotland had to buy electricity from England while two Scottish wind farms were paid £34,000 to shut down. It seems the big energy companies who tend to develop these wind farms are making money from producing and selling electricity, making money from not producing electricity, and then increasing the price of their electricity to the consumer. The whole situation seems absurd.