Wind Farms Paid Millions to Stand Idle
By Anne Lewis-Schneider
Wind Farms are producing more energy than the grid can currently cope with, and this has led to payments being made to shut down production. The National Energy Grid can only handle a certain amount of energy before it reaches capacity, and it would appear that Wind Farms are the easiest to shut down and start up. Last weekend was a particularly productive one with the wind blowing so strongly in Scotland that wind farms were paid £3.1 million to switch off or slow down their turbines. Farms are often being paid more to stop production than they get for the actual production of electricity.
The energy that could potentially have been produced last weekend was enough to power 12,000 houses for a year. There was a bottleneck of energy which could not be accommodated by the National grid, with 40% of all the transmittable energy being discarded; these losses were put down to maintenance and gusty conditions. In total this year so far payments of almost £15 million have been made to wind farms in compensation for their having to reduce production, and that figure only takes into consideration giant turbines that are connected to the national network, which are responsible for 70% of total wind power.
Wind farms have a £100/MWh guaranteed payment, but over the past weekend, the National Grid had to pay £200/MWh to shut off production from two Scottish wind farms. The National Grid is not keeping up with the development and their infrastructure cannot cope with the generated electricity. This will result in more payments to lower production.
Maf Smith of Renewable UK says that wind is an unpredictable flexible source of energy which has the ability of being regulated much easier than other forms of power, so it makes sense to ask them to curtail supply when the grid is battling to cope. Ofgem has said that they will take strong action if they feel that wind farms are profiteering through the energy constraints on wind farms.
With all of this wind energy being supplied and not being absorbed into the national grid one wonders whether the 1000 planned turbines are going to be economically viable. According to agreements between the EU and the UK renewable energy usage needs to be on target at 15% by 2020. The problem is that the public are paying for these stoppages.
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