Over-supply of wind energy is a known problem, but it’s getting worse as more windfarms are connected to an electricity grid that wasn’t designed to accommodate them. Wind Watch explains.
Energy giants have been paid a record £4million a week in subsidy this winter to turn off wind turbines. While people struggled to pay energy bills compensation was handed to wind farm owners because the power they generate could not be used.
In November, December and January a total of £51.5million was paid to mainly Scottish-based producers. Under a complex compensation scheme the wind farm owners are given “constraint payments” for electricity they could have generated and sold if there was a demand for it or there had not been a grid blockage.
One of the major problems with the system is that the grid link between England and Scotland has limited capacity and when all the wind turbines north of the border are spinning not all the power generated can be sent south. This means that gas or coal-fired plants often have to be brought online to fill the gap.
As more wind farms sprout up in Scotland an increasing amount of subsidy is being paid. The £51.5million subsidy paid to wind farms is more than double the £22.7million paid over the same three months last year and more than five times the £10million they received in the winter of 2013/14.
Green activists say wind farms need subsidies to tempt suppliers to take up the renewable energy technology. Critics say the system just puts consumers’ cash into the pockets of energy giants.
Dr Lee Moroney, of the Renewable Energy Foundation think tank, said: “What is often overlooked is that fossil fuel plants are required to generate the shortfall when wind farms are constrained off. This means consumers are paying Scottish wind farms not to generate and English gas plants at the same time to provide the necessary electricity.”
Lawrence Slade, chief executive of Energy UK, said: “We support the practice of constraint payments as a method of maintaining a secure electricity system provided it remains the most cost-efficient option.”
Source: By Matthew Davis | Daily and Sunday Express | Feb. 21, 2016 | http://www.express.co.uk