The Scottish wind-power racket 

Posted: August 10, 2017 by oldbrew in Big Green, Critique, government, turbines, wind
Tags: , ,

21st Century Scottish landscape

John Constable and Matt Ridley at Capx deliver the lowdown on how Scotland gets UK taxpayers to pay for its windfarms, even when there’s no wind – or too much wind.

Imagine a sausage factory – the luckiest, most profitable sausage factory in the world. Its machines crank out their sausages, and lorries carry them to supermarkets. So far, so normal.

But this particular factory makes as many sausages as the management and staff choose. If they feel like taking the day off, the lorries and shelves stay empty. If they want to go a bit wild, they sometimes make so many sausages that there aren’t enough lorries to take them away. Or they carry on cranking out sausages even if the shelves are already full.

And here’s the really amazing thing: even when the lorries can’t cope or there is no demand for sausages, the factory gets paid.

Indeed, they get paid more for not sending the sausages to the shops than for sending them. This is such great business that the factory is actually building an extension, so it can threaten to make even more unwanted sausages.

Does all that sound completely mad? Of course it does. But it’s what happens in the British electricity industry – where the blackmailing, money-printing sausage factory is a wind farm in Scotland.

There are currently about 750 wind farms north of the border, with roughly 3,000 wind turbines. Their total generating capacity amounts to 5,700 MW. The actual amount produced varies according to the weather. But at its maximum, that wind capacity is more than the 5.5 GW peak demand on the Scottish grid.

What this means, of course, is that the output from Scottish wind turbines is often more than the Scottish system can absorb. That requires the surplus energy to be exported to England and Wales. But that isn’t as easy as it sounds.

The wind farms are distributed across Scotland, sometimes in very remote regions, so there is a real problem in getting their energy down to the English border – let alone getting it across.

Continued here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Also in the report:

    ‘And in a supreme irony, it is more than likely that the same large companies getting constraint payments on one side of the bottleneck (because the Scottish grid can’t cope) also get paid to start up their gas turbines in England to make up for the shortfall. Laugh? It’s enough to make a grown bill-payer cry.’

  2. graphicconception says:

    I always use a Café analogy.

    Imagine a café that opens at irregular hours and often at inconvenient times i.e. times when you do not want a cup of coffee. The café might produce a cup of coffee every ten seconds at 1am and you have to pay for it even if no-one wants to drink it.

    You have no right to expect the café to be open when you visit and if you need a coffee you must, by law, check with them to see if they are open. If so, then you must buy your coffee from them. Only if they are working at full capacity can you go to another café.

    Now for the final step, the price of the coffee is set by the competition but you can undercut that and still make a profit because the government will make up the difference.

  3. thefordprefect says:

    From NG
    £7m Cost of wind constraints 2012/13
    £170m Total constraint costs 2012/13
    1% Cost of balancing on consumer bills

    guardian Thursday 3 April 2014 20.59 BST
    National Grid made special payments of £300m over the last 12 months to big energy companies – sometimes for switching off their power stations in an attempt to “balance” the system.

    The huge payout dwarfs the £37m paid to windfarms to remain offline over the same period to the end of February – a figure used by critics to question the advisability of supporting renewable energy.

    The numbers have come to light because the grid, which operates the transmission lines and pylons around the UK, has started to make them publicly available them for the first time.

    A spokesman for the National Grid said paying gas or wind companies not to operate might appear unusual but a range of often unforeseeable factors, such as plant breakdowns, weather patterns and other issues, made it vital to compensate them for regional asymmetries in supply and demand.

    “Making these constraint payments is the most economic way of balancing the system, such as when power is needed in one part of the network but not in another,” said a spokeswoman.

    The Renewable Energy Foundation, seen by critics as an anti-wind lobby group, has crunched the raw data from the grid on payments made to windfarms in March and say they reached £8.7m.

    John Constable, the director of the Foundation, said he was relaxed about gas companies balancing the system but said wind constraint payments were “rocketing up” and were double the cost of subsidies paid when the turbines operated. “They [windfarm operators] are abusing their power in the market,” he claimed.

    The debate has hotted up amid revelations that David Cameron is considering whether to cut all financial aid to onshore windfarms in the runup to the elections.

    The grid’s official figures for February indicate that constraint payments were below £2m for wind in February but were worth just under £20m to gas operators, which could include the big six suppliers.

    A spokesperson for the grid said there were going to be “peaks and troughs” in payments to all generators and pointed out that constraint payments had started before any wind turbines were built: “These are not a consequence of wind.”

    But the grid admitted that there were additional problems with wind because so many farms had been built so quickly, many in remote parts of the country, before the transmission infrastructure to handle their output was built.

    “It is true that there are new wind farms coming on stream in Scotland that need extra [transmission] capacity to bring the power down to the south of England. A major increase will come when the western link [transmission line] is built but this will not open until 2016,” said the spokeswoman

  4. Bitter&twisted says:

    They are not wind farms, rather subsidy farms, sucking money from the poor and pumping it to the rich.

    A grotesque caricature of Robin Hood.

    The whole green energy business is an Enron-sized scam.

  5. tallbloke says:

    Ford: Those special payments are when the wind blows strong and other generation plant has to shut down in a hurry to balance the system. The consumer ends up paying for everything twice. Also included in that figure is compensation for shutting down coal plant not at end of life so Cameron could ship the generator sets off to Germany, where they’re building new coal fired plant. The treasonous little toadie was doing Brussels bidding to make us energy dependent on the EU. There’s a 7yr waiting list for the copper windings from the far east.

  6. oldbrew says:

    “A major increase will come when the western link [transmission line] is built but this will not open until 2016,” said the spokeswoman
    – – –
    Should say the end of 2017.
    – – –
    They’re currently ripping up the countryside in SW Scotland to put in transmission lines for wind projects.

    – – –
    The Kendoon to Tongland 132kV Reinforcement Project

    ‘Disappointing that so much of the proposed routeing
    has been targeted towards woodland areas. Such
    routeing will inevitably result in significant woodland
    losses, likely running into hundreds of hectares. Such
    losses act against the achievement of the Scottish
    Government’s wider objectives around the expansion
    of woodland cover in Scotland.’ – Forestry Commission Scotland

  7. BoyfromTottenham says:

    Hi from Oz. You will be pleased to know that it is even worse here, because of what they call the Large Renewable Energy Target (LRET) legislation. Actually, this clever ‘Target’ misnomer hides the fact that this is a giant renewables subsidy, in the form of a hidden funds transfer from mostly domestic electricity consumers to ‘renewables’ generators through the creation and exchange of ‘clean energy certificates’, supposedly at the rate of about A$85.00 per MWh sent to the grid. This is on top of the mandatory amount of renewable power that energy retailers must buy (and supposedly sell) before they can buy from far cheaper and unsubsidised base load and peaking generators.
    And worse, I believe there is a gross error in the formula used to determine eligibility for these certificates, which results in renewables generators being eligible for up to 1.8 certificates per MWh delivered to the grid, rather than the 1 certificate per MWh stated in the legislation. This is not a trivial issue – last year nearly 20 million certificates were created, worth about A$1.7 billion (= the size of the renewables LRET subsidy). If the formula used is incorrect, this means that the subsidy was about A$700 million above what it should have been. Lovely lolly for some, and a huge insult to domestic electricity consumers suffering from massive cost increases.

  8. oldbrew says:

    So it’s in the Scottish government’s interests to milk this situation for all it’s worth and approve every tower. What will stop them turning the whole of Scotland into a giant welfare windmill?

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