Wind farms paid – to do nothing

Turbines across Scotland were switched off as high winds ripped across Scotland (Picture by Jfz)

SCOTTISH wind farms have been paid more than £2.5million to stop producing electricity for just a few hours.

The National Grid ordered the shut down as the tail end of Hurricane Katia ripped across the country earlier this month.

High winds meant that too much electricity was being produced, forcing power chiefs to order the £2.6million shut down.

Eleven sites were ordered to stop production after official feared the power network could become overloaded.

And it’s been revealed that one Borders wind farm was paid a staggering £1.2million to turn off their turbines for just eight and a half hours.


The Crystal Rig wind farm near Dunbar was paid almost £1000 for each megawatt of electricity they produced every hour.

During normal operation they receive just £100 for the same amount of energy.

The National Grid defended the spending, saying they asked cheaper suppliers to switch off first.

A National Grid spokesman said: “The payments are based on what the operators bid and how many megawatt hours are constrained off.”

The operators of the Borders wind farm, Fred Olsen Renewables, deliberately set their fees high to avoid having to turn off their turbines.

But as wind speeds were so high and so much electricity was being produced officials were forced to ask for the shutdown of Crystal Rig.

A spokesman for Fred Olsen Renewables said: “Crystal Rig is one of the largest wind farms in the UK so it is one of the last farms we intend to get switched off, so the price is set that high.

“There are about four or five developers who do the same thing, set it at the £999 level to try and keep it up as long as possible.

“Crystal was one of the last to be shut off”


In April this year six Scottish wind farms were turned off, at a cost of just under £1million.

At the time a spokesman for the Department of Energy and Climate Change said the incident “unusual” and called for more power storage facilities.

He said: “In future we need greater electrical energy storage facilities and greater interconnection with out EU neighbours so that excess energy supplies can be bought or sold where required.”

However investigations have revealed that “wind constraint” payments in May totalled £2.6million and £670,000 was paid out in June.

In a statement the Renewable Energy Foundation said: “It would appearthat the April 2011 constraint payments were not “unusual” as the Department of Energy and Climate Change first suggested, but are an indication of an ongoing structural problem in the network or a market flaw.”

Opponents to wind farms claim that the growing number of turbines across the country will compound the problem as operators will increase the amount they want to be paid for a shut down, leaving the consumers to pick up the bill.

The National Grid spends £280million each year balancing the supply and demand of electricity.