Are switched-off wind turbines generating more cash?

Wind farms are paid to switch off due to a lack of grid storage

Wind farms supported by government green subsidies might be paid more to switch off their turbines than to generate power.

Current constraints in the transmission system and a lack of long-duration grid storage often mean the UK is producing more electricity from wind power sources than it can use.

The only way to manage the grid imbalance, which happens when renewable power generation outstrips demand, is to curtail wind power.

That’s why the National Grid pays producers to turn off rather than overload the grid, especially during high wind times.

According to The Sunday Telegraph, in an environment where electricity prices remain at record highs, some producers seem to cash in on financial pressures.

Producers offer the price at which they are willing to switch off, which is normally around the market rate for electricity while some wind producers on government subsidy contracts are paid a fixed price.

By switching off, producers may therefore be able to make rates well above their fixed prices.

According to the UK Wind Curtailment Monitor, last year, consumers paid £215 million to turn wind farms off and an estimated £717 million to purchase gas-powered electricity to cover the difference.

A report by consultancy LCP found that over the last couple of years curtailing wind power added £806 million to customers’ energy bills.

A BEIS spokesperson told ELN: “The government is currently undertaking a review of electricity market arrangements (REMA).

“Curtailment payments are used by the National Grid ESO, as well as in other nations around the world, to safely manage electricity supply on a day-to-day basis. Wind energy companies are not able to rely on these payments as a stable or longer-term income.

“As set out in our Energy Security Strategy and Electricity Networks Strategic Framework with Ofgem, the government is committed to accelerating the delivery of improved electricity network infrastructure as new sources of clean and affordable electricity generation come online.”

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