Enough wind power was curtailed in 2020 to power a million homes for a year 

Posted: January 13, 2021 by oldbrew in Energy, wind
Tags: , ,

Hornsea wind project

Is anyone in UK government circles going to take this seriously, as compensation (constraint) payments spiral upwards? The perpetual mismatch between supply and demand of wind power can only get worse as more of it is built. Energy storage can’t resolve these problems, only reduce them slightly at best.
– – –
Enough wind power was curtailed in 2020 to power a million homes for a year, reports Energy Live News.

A new report produced by Lane Clark & Peacock LLP (LCP) says primarily as a result of network constraints, last year saw a total of 3.6TWh of wind power shut off and wasted.

It claims if an extra 20GWh of battery storage was installed across the country, the amount of wind power wasted annually could be reduced by up to 50% – it says storage capacity must be ‘rapidly-scaled’ in order to avoid wasting large volumes of renewable energy in the future, which increases costs and reduces the proportion of the energy mix that can be generated without relying on fossil fuels.

The research forecasts that wind curtailments in Scotland and England will cost consumers as much as £1 billion per year by 2025 and notes this is likely to grow, considering the government’s commitment to quadruple the amount of offshore wind capacity to 40GW by 2030.

Full article here.

  1. oldbrew says:

    Much or most of the ‘network constraints’ are due to over-building capacity in Scotland without the means to transmit it all to England/Wales.

    Various problems have occurred with the undersea Western Link cables from Scotland to Wales, which were supposed to help relieve the congestion.


  2. Gamecock says:

    ‘Enough wind power was curtailed in 2020 to power a million homes for a year’

    The second year, everyone dies.

    ‘last year saw a total of 3.6TWh of wind power shut off and wasted’

    A strange construct. Wind turbines extract energy from wind, converting it to electricity. If wind turbines don’t run, they don’t convert wind energy to electricity. Nothing is wasted. Calling it ‘wasted’ is hyperbole, and diminishes the credibility of LC&P.

  3. “Nothing is wasted.”

    Money is wasted. Paying wind farms to do nothing.

  4. ivan says:

    According to http://www.gridwatch.templar.co.uk/ earlier this evening coal was supplying more power than all the wind.

    It would help if all the constraint payments were scrapped and the owners of windmills had to quote on how much power they could guarantee to supply per month and if they couldn’t supply that amount they paid the grid to get it from somewhere else.

  5. oldbrew says:

    it says storage capacity must be ‘rapidly-scaled’ in order to avoid wasting large volumes of renewable energy in the future, which increases costs

    Lose-lose: extra storage capacity also increases costs. Vast battery capacity, charged and ready to go every time the wind dies for a while, is just another fantasy.

  6. Graeme No.3 says:

    So all that is needed to make renewables possible is more batteries?
    Who pays for them? It’s a choice between taxpayers or electricity users, or both. I know what that answer will be.
    And how many?
    Even on yearly basis their output can vary from minus 10% to plus 7% of their average (figures from)
    So 10% minimum battery capacity to make the yearly supply predictable?

    But as recent events in Germany have shown there are times when they generate derisory amounts and batteries are supposed to make up one days difference? 100% battery capacity???

    Watch out for flying pigs.

  7. TomO says:


    Note the date on that Western Link Register article – news of project status has gone dark since the last trip out almost exactly a year ago and partners Scottish Power and National Grid are both reticent about the status of the cable….. National Grid’s transmission asset mapping doesn’t even show the cable!

    Nearly 3 years late and at least 5 outages in early operation.

    An outage at Western Link HVDC has led to record Balancing Mechanism (BM) payments of £30.9 million, according to Cornwall Insight.

    ofgem are probing – but that’s also gone dark since it was announced.

    I don’t want to see a £1,300,000,000 project go tits-up but Prysmian the cable suppliers are Pirelli Cables as was – who purportedly went bust for over-specifying HV cable jointing products which they guaranteed – but which failed in such numbers that they couldn’t fund the repairs / replacements – so refactored and re-branded etc., etc….

    I’d like to see that that “record setting undersea 600kV, 2200MW HVDC” bidirectional interconnector is fully functional at its original design capacity – and it’s not unreasonable to imagine the PR fluff that would emanate from such an achievement.

    Apparently the only independent way to see if it’s working is to infer from spreadsheet BM Reports ….

  8. Gamecock says:

    ‘Money is wasted. Paying wind farms to do nothing.’

    Gamecock’s oldest brother, advising him on gambling on golf:

    “It’s not how you play, it’s how you arrange the bet.”

  9. oldbrew says:

    Tom – absence of news on the Prysmian link is ominous.

    The high rate of constraint payments adds to suspicion that all is not well there.

  10. TomO says:


    If there’s one thing I know about renewables / offshore wind it’s that the quantity and ferocity of Non Disclosure Agreements has been ratcheting ever upwards wrt to fails

    If Western Link was working well – it’d be front and centre in marketing bumf and “success stories” – it was initially touted as ground breaking new tech (maybe it is – but not in the way intended?).

    I want it to be working…. but as you say, the serious lack of updates has to be taken as a bad omen?

    Here is is a series of investor questions that require a subscription – and it isn’t hard to see why answers to some of them might be a matter of considerable public interest…

    FoI at whatdotheyknow.com

  11. TomO says:

    Promo video for Western Link

    There’s a proposed Eastern Link – looks like it’s going to be a PR flagship project for COP26.

    A trivial look at the documents floating around seems to indicate the transmission voltage has been dialled down for the Eastern Link project to 400kV DC – not hard to wonder why that might be?

  12. oldbrew says:

    Iberdrola says: Almost 1 GW of wind farms are already in operation off the east coast of Scotland, and a further 4.4 GW is in the pipeline. Furthermore, some 10 additional GW are predicted following the outcome of the next round of tenders for offshore wind energy in Scotland, Scotwind.

    – – –
    Awaiting Tom’s FOI result on the Western Link.

    Also: EUR 80 million to repair some cables at a wind farm!

  13. Graeme No.3 says:

    Where are they going to send that amount (when the wind blows)?
    Should the SNP get their wish of independence why should England pay all the subsidies and adjustments for scottish wind?

  14. oldbrew says:

    Graeme – the blurb says: ‘will supply four million homes within a 440 km radius’.

    The usual greenwash, ignoring the daily intermittency. But customers won’t be able to ignore it, of course.

  15. It doesn't add up... says:

    Some sums. Saving 50% of 3.6TWh (never mind that it’s actually 3.7TWh) is 1.8TWh,so expecting 1800/20 or 90 charge cycles a year. Actual discharge would be only around 75-80% allowing for round trip losses. If we take the installed cost at $500/kWh then 20GWh costs $10bn. Constraint payments totalled £274m, so the saving is of £137m worth of payments. We are looking at over 50 years payback on an asset with a service life of about 10 years.

  16. tallbloke says:

  17. It doesn't add up... says:

    I’ve done a certain amount of analysis on surpluses we can expect as wind capacity is increased. I did the work when our capacity was around 22GW, so the multiples in the chart of of that level of capacity. The surplus duration curves look like this:


    At the Y axis you can read off the maximum likely surplus for a given level of wind capacity. Where each line hits the X axis, the maximum percentage of the year when there is any surplus can be read off. For now, surpluses mainly occur on windy nights when demand is low.

    Of course curtailment is also currently dominated by the transmission constraints from Scotland, but it is also frequently motivated by the need to maintain adequate inertia on the grid, which is why we haven’t seen more “records” for wind – which must be shut in to allow enough inertia providing generation to lower the blackout risk.

    Batteries are not the economic way of dealing with wind surpluses, which is of course why now the future energy scenarios from BEIS, National Grid, and the CCC emphasize hydrogen. Not that any of them appear to have done the simple sums behind my chart, which would give them pause for thought.

  18. oldbrew says:

    Wind > elec > hydrogen > elec is a losing game.

  19. Peter Norman says:

    TB There is no end to the losses blowing in the wind. I noticed this management summary point in a November 2020 REF report:
    “More generally, financial investors such as PensionDanmark need to exercise extreme caution
    when evaluating investments in offshore wind projects for which development rights have been
    awarded by some form of auction. The risks and potential size of the winner’s curse are so
    large as to mean such investments will be unlikely to earn a satisfactory return even in the best
    of circumstances. There is a high probability of losing a large portion of the money invested
    in such projects. This is because the developers will be unwilling to accept a valuation of the
    projects that involve substantial write-downs to reflect a reasonable assessment of the risks and
    probable revenues from the projects.”
    I guess the winner’s curse in the UK sits with the consumer.

  20. Peter Norman says:

    OB Sorry. I didn’t realise a link could suck the lot in. Does it need a fix?

    [reply] no, it’s a WordPress issue

  21. TomO says:

    @Peter Norman

    I was told that some financial fund managers in the UK blithely accept prospectuses from wind farm SPVs (one-time companies for each wind farm) who are claiming 80% load factor. iirc the proposed Dogger Island thing did this … A hall of shame for the guilt would be nice.

  22. oldbrew says:

    Delingpole: ‘Obsessed’ Greenie Boris Johnson Is Driving Britain Towards Eco-Dictatorship

    Boris Johnson’s green revolution is a slow motion train crash in the making. Even those invested in ‘climate change’ as a genuine threat are starting to wake up to the problem.


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