Renewable Energy Foundation

  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

REF on Guardian Constraints Story

On the 3rd of April the Guardian published a short article on constraint payments to wind power in Scotland ("Gas company special payments dwarf constraint payments to wind farms"). This story was based in part on a story in The Times earlier in the week ("Wind farms are paid £8.7m in one month to stop turbines"), and partly on an interview with REF.

The Guardian does not seem to have fully explained the significance of these extra payments to wind power, or the relation between payments to wind to stop and payments to conventional generators to start generating. REF sent the following letter to the editor, which has not, as far as we can tell, yet been published:

Dear Sir:

Your article (“Gas company special payments dwarf constraint payments to windfarms” 04.04.14) mistakenly downplays the significance of wind farms in Scotland demanding compensation well in excess of the subsidies lost when National Grid needs to stop them from generating. This is already very expensive and set to become more so.

The article also surprisingly implies that because conventional generation is paid to be constrained “on" to the system it is somehow acceptable for wind farms to overcharge per MWh when they are constrained “off".

However, such a view not only glosses over the economic and technical differences between constraining generation “on” and constraining it “off", but also fails to recognise the causal relation between these two actions, namely that constraining off wind farms on one side of a grid bottleneck, means that conventional generators on the other side, often gas, must be constrained on to maintain continuity of supply.

Thus, a significant proportion of the constrained on payments received by conventional generators must also be attributed to the proliferation of wind farms in Scotland, where the Connect & Manage policy has permitted and even encouraged wind development to exceed grid capacity.

It is possible, perhaps likely, that some energy companies who own both wind farms and conventional generation are making unreasonable profits on both sides of the equation, but a lack of transparency in the reporting of electricity market data makes it impossible for those outside the industry to investigate this matter.

The consumer is clearly vulnerable to unchecked exploitation at present, and strong intervention by government and the regulator, Ofgem, is long overdue.

Yours sincerely,
John Constable.

AddThis Social Bookmark Button