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Wind Farms Paid £53 Million To Switch Off Last Year

January 4, 2015

By Paul Homewood


h/t Joe Public




The Telegraph report:


Wind farms are being paid more than £1 million a week to switch off their turbines.

Latest industry figures show £53.1 million was handed out to green energy companies over the past 12 months for shutting down turbines. The money is paid by consumers through a subsidy added on to electricity bills.

The turbines have to be shut down at certain times because Britain’s electricity network is unable to cope with the power they produce. The wind farm owners then receive compensation payments for not producing electricity.

On average a wind farm that is paid to switch off earns about one third more than if it produced electricity and sold it to the National Grid.

The scale of the payments has ballooned in the past two years. In 2012, wind farms were paid £5.9 million to switch off. In 2014, those payments – known as constraint payments – had increased 10-fold to just over £53 million, according to the think-tank Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), which compiled the figures using official data. The true figure is likely to be much higher because not all payments are made public.

Since wind farms first started receiving constraint payments five years ago, more than £100 million has been handed over in compensation for switching off.

Over the past year, one wind farm – Whitelee – received more than £20 million for turning off its turbines. Whitelee, Britain’s largest onshore wind farm, with 215 turbines and situated just outside Glasgow, is owned by Scottish Power Renewables, a subsidiary of the Spanish energy giant Iberdrola.

The payments are highest in Scotland because electricity demand north of the border does not always match the amount of power produced by turbines and other energy sources. Cable networks to take the extra power south of the border are not completed.

As a result, National Grid has to pay the wind farm owners to stop generating to keep supply and demand balanced.

It is causing growing concern in Whitehall that payments are spiralling. A letter sent on Dec 17 by the energy watchdog Ofgem to Matthew Hancock, the energy minister, warns of a “significant overall increase” in future constraint costs.

The letter, published on Ofgem’s website and uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, discloses that the “constraint costs” for 23 “large generation” projects – 20 of which are windfarms – totalled £69.4 million in the 12 months to March 31 2014 – more than treble the constraint cost of the previous year.

National Grid has revised its estimates for constraint costs, to a total of more than £400 million over the next six years. In the letter, Ofgem’s Michael Crouch wrote: “Since our last report in December 2013, National Grid has refined its modelling approach to estimating future constraint costs.

This combined with a larger than expected increase in the underlying numbers has resulted in a significant overall increase in its projections of constraint costs.”

Dr John Constable, the director of REF, said: “The reckless policy of wind farm construction in Scotland… has created an ongoing bonanza for wind farms, which are actually paid more per unit to stop generating than to generate.”

An Ofgem spokesman said: “National Grid’s costs for making these payments have increased as more renewable generators have connected to Britain’s networks before investment programmes have been completed to build new capacity.”

 And, of course, when the extra cable networks are completed, guess who will be paying for the cost of them? As more and more wind farm capacity is added in coming years, the more consumers will end up paying.

  1. January 4, 2015 2:00 pm

    Reblogged this on and commented:
    I wonder when something like this will be invented in the U. S.

  2. Joe Public permalink
    January 4, 2015 2:06 pm

    C’mon Paul. That £53.1 million has been tremendous value-for-money.

    There’s been no global warming for 18 years 3 months:

  3. A C Osborn permalink
    January 4, 2015 2:16 pm

    When they are “off” does that mean they are still producing, but not supplying or do they feather them?

    • January 4, 2015 2:33 pm

      “…National Grid has to pay the wind farm owners to stop generating…”

    • Joe Public permalink
      January 4, 2015 2:51 pm

      I bet there are millions of electricity-bill payers who’d like to pluck them!

  4. manicbeancounter permalink
    January 4, 2015 3:45 pm

    These shut-down payments are just one aspect of giving preferential treatment to a form of electricity that is not competitive on cost, on where the power is generated and when the power is generated. To accommodate wind turbines we lower the capacity utilization of fossil-fueled power stations, have to keep an increasing reserve capacity through the STOR scheme and expensively upgrade the National Grid.
    A more equitable system would be in windy period – say in weeks when the wind turbines are operating at greater than 50% of capacity – for some of the subsidies to wind turbines to be redirected to the conventional power stations that have been cut-off as a result.

  5. Allan M permalink
    January 4, 2015 6:06 pm

    “The reckless policy of wind farm construction in Scotland… has created an ongoing bonanza for wind farms, which are actually paid more per unit to stop generating than to generate.

    Now that part proves that it’s a racket.

  6. January 4, 2015 6:42 pm

    Thanks, Paul.
    They kill birds, ruin the landscape and they cost much more than they produce.
    What’s not to like?

    • Kon Dealer permalink
      January 4, 2015 8:21 pm

      Perfect in the E.U.’s virtual reality then.

  7. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 4, 2015 9:48 pm

    In the State of Washington there are court cases involving these things. Base load is hydro. Apparently a few contracts were somewhat unclear as to all the details. When the big dams are full or nearly so they need to get rid of water. Running it through the generators produces power. Letting it spill introduces nitrogen gas (I think that’s the one) that then can harm the Salmon. Salmon override all other factors so that is a no-no. But if the wind blows at these times the owners want the wind-farms to produce. So, a couple of years ago the balancing authority told the wind tower managers to shut down – save the Salmon. So off to court they all go. Such costs seem to get lost when folks tally up the full costs of these scams.

  8. John F. Hultquist permalink
    January 5, 2015 4:48 am

    Wind Tower meets Earth!
    Google Earth – Street view at these coordinates:
    54.45489, -7.32867

    One just fell down and the others are shut off.

  9. bettyhill permalink
    May 24, 2015 6:32 pm

    Wind Energy Generation: The $500 Billion Global Fraud – The British People and those across the world are Being Totally Conned and Absolutely Misled by our Politicians with an energy policy that is based upon predominantly, hot-air For Wind Turbines are sheer economic madness in the long-term –

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