£4m a week not to use UK windfarms 

Posted: February 22, 2016 by oldbrew in Energy, wind
Tags: ,

Money down the drain [image credit: thisismoney.co.uk]

Money down the drain
[image credit: thisismoney.co.uk]

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

  1. oldbrew says:

    ‘As more wind farms sprout up in Scotland an increasing amount of subsidy is being paid.’

    If Scotland votes itself out of the UK at some point, who exactly is going to pay such subsidies?

  2. Climatism says:

    Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    …Not to mention the other small problem when the wind ‘doesn’t’ blow.

  3. Joe Public says:

    The solution to the embarrassment of paying subsidy-farms to not produce:

    **Pay** users to increase demand. [With the added benefit of avoiding adverse publicty by eliminating use of the dreaded phrase “Constraint Payments”]


  4. oldbrew says:

    Joe P’s link: ‘‘Footroom’ – an automated service that helps manufacturers and other industry increase demand and therefore production – when wind turbine output is highest.’

    Might help in daytime but limited value for the rest of the 24 hours?

  5. Kelvin Vaughan says:

    They have just built a windfarm over the back from us. They got it going and then turned it off. It has not been working for 2 weeks now.

  6. oldbrew says:

    Kelvin V: maybe it’s not connected to the grid yet?

    Meanwhile: ‘Top 11 problems for wind and solar’

  7. Graeme No.3 says:

    You pay for the wind when it blows, you pay out when it doesn’t blow – who said wind power is cheap?

  8. oldbrew says:

    CFACT points out:
    ‘Merely building a 3,000-mile network of transmission lines capable of moving power from wind-rich West Texas to market in East Texas proved to be a $6.8 billion effort that began in 2008 and still isn’t entirely finished. Building the infrastructure to move large amounts of solar or wind power from the best places to generate it to the places where power is needed would be incredibly expensive and could cost many times the price of generating the power.’
    – See more at: http://www.cfact.org/2015/12/26/top-11-problems-for-wind-and-solar/

    The Germans are now finding this out, as the wind is in the North Sea but the power needs are in Bavaria and other parts of the south (the north has masses of coal) that rely largely on nuclear power, which is being phased out.

    Nobody is keen on new transmission lines scarring their landscapes.

  9. ivan says:

    I would think it would be easier to work out what wind farms should be paid if you took the total name plate value of the farms then the total amount they generated over a year and then pay then using the same percentage and also use that percentage to reduce the subsidies.

    In other words they should put up or shut up.

  10. AndyG55 says:

    “Energy giants have been paid a record £4million a week in subsidy this winter to turn off wind turbines.”

    And yet Coal fired power stations aren’t paid to turn off their output.

    So much for a level cost structure.

  11. AndyG55 says:

    “If Scotland votes itself out of the UK at some point, who exactly is going to pay such subsidies?”

    At least Scotland will have heaps of electricity when the wind blows.

    UK.. not so much. 😉 A sellers market… sometimes.

  12. BLACK PEARL says:

    Ooo look at all the wind being produced on grid watch currently

    oldbrew says:
    February 22, 2016 at 10:23 pm
    How much of the generated power is lost in transmission just to connect up to the grid ?

  13. oldbrew says:

    BP: we’re now getting more from the French interconnector than from all UK wind turbines combined.

  14. BLACK PEARL says:

    oldbrew Yeah UK wind down to 2%

    Does anyone know how much of the leky generated is lost via the long connection lines from wind wheels to grid connection ?

  15. oldbrew says:

    BP: they would be doing quite well to keep it below 10%.