Wind farms handed £5 million to switch off turbines as thousands of homes left …

December 30, 2013 by  
Filed under Green Energy News

Anti-wind farm campaigners said the figures would infuriate hard-pressed
households and demonstrated that wind farms were being erected faster than
the National Grid can absorb the electricity they produce.

It was reported on Boxing Day that constraint payments of £30.4 million had
been paid out in 2013 compared with £5 million the previous year.

However, this did not include the money handed out to switch off turbines
during the Christmas week storms and the total has since increased to £32.6
million. With more stormy weather forecast over New Year, the total is
expected to rise further.

Murdo Fraser, a senior Tory MSP and wind farm critic, said: “Families who are
struggling with overstretched household budgets at Christmas time and have
to meet ever-increasing energy bills will be horrified to see such vast sums
of their money being paid to wind power companies for doing nothing.

“This exposes once again the over-reliance on wind developments as part of our
energy mix when the Grid capacity doesn’t currently exist to properly
utilise the power produced.”

The constraint payment figures were compiled using official data by the
Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity. The first bout of storms saw energy
companies paid £653,727 on December 18 and £1.24 million on December 19 to
switch off turbines at 31 wind farms.

A further £113,826 was paid out on December 21 and £248,399 the following day
before the payments spiked again on Christmas Eve as storms tore across
Britain.

As around 75,000 homes were left without power, the wind farm companies were
paid £787,959 to switch off turbines at 18 of their developments. Around
50,000 households remained without power on Christmas Day when £432,445 of
constraint payments were made.

Another £287,454 was given to the energy firms on December 27 and £126,827 on
December 28, according to the figures.

The National Grid has said the system is needed to balance supply and demand
and the money handed to wind farms make up only a small proportion of
constraint payments made to generators of all types.

A spokesman for RenewableUK, the lobby group representing wind farm companies,
said: “December has been a record-breaking period for the amount of clean
power generated by wind, with the most electricity we’ve ever generated in a
month – more than 2 million megawatt hours.

“It’s very easy to turn a wind turbine on or off compared to other forms of
generation such as a nuclear power station. That is partly why the National
Grid sometimes calls on wind developers to constrain their power.”

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