Windfarm operators paid as turbines power off

Turbines at the Hadyard Hill Wind Farm.
Turbines at the Hadyard Hill Wind Farm.

Windfarm operators in the Carrick area have been paid almost £900,000 this year to power down due to extreme wind.

Power firms qualify for the so-called constraint payments when wind farms are switched off when it is too windy.

And the operators of the Hadyard Hill, Arecleoch and Mark Hill windfarms have been making huge sums as a result of the bad weather.

Between January 1 and January 15 this year operators Scottish and Southern Energy and Scottish Power Renewables collected £869,204 in constraint payments between them as a result of temporarily shutting down.

The figures were supplied by the Renewable Energy Foundation which also revealed that over £8m has been paid to windfarm operators across Scotland in constraint payments so far this year alone.

Dr John Constable, director of Renewable Energy Foundation said: “The plain fact is that the government has allowed too much wind to be built in Scotland, and major constraint payments to wind power are now inevitable, though undesirable. That wind farms are allowed to charge excessive prices, well in excess of their lost income, can only add insult to injury. “

“Superficially, building more grid might seem to be the answer to wind constraints. However, there are no cheap solutions and new wires in the air are very expensive, so the ultimate cost to the consumer could actually be much greater than paying wind farms to stop generating.”

In the first two weeks of 2015, there were only two days in which SSE did not receive a constraint payment from Hadyard Hill being closed.

In total it received £495,144 in constraint payments from the 51 turbine wind farm near Dailly and Barr.

On New Year’s Day SSE collected £85,807 in constraint payments and pocketed a similar sum of £85,444 the day after. Their highest payment came on January 7 when they received £87,716 as a result of the National Grid being unable to handle the extra energy produced by the turbines.

Scottish Power Renewables collected a total of £306,131 from the Arecleoch wind farm near Barrhill as well as £67,929 in payments from the nearby Markhill wind farm.

On the first two days of 2015, Scottish Power Renewables were paid £56,684 and £82,230 as a result of the 60 turbine Arecleoch wind farm powering down.

Michael Rieley of Scottish Power Renewables said: “Despite anti-wind lobby groups only ever focussing on the small proportion of constraint payments given to wind, other types of energy generation also get constrained off the grid and receive far higher payments.

“The latest figures from National Grid show that constraint and balancing payments made to windfarms in 2014 totalled £31.55 million, while gas was paid £125 million – nearly four times as much.”