In your recent story on constraint payments to wind (“Wind farms paid £4.8 million to stop during storms”, 1 January) a spokesperson for Scottish Renewables was quoted as saying that “wind is one of the least likely generators to receive constraint payments”.
This statement is difficult to interpret in a way that is consistent with the facts, but I imagine the confusion arises from a failure to distinguish between payments to wind farms to stop generating (“constrained off” payments) with payments to conventional generators to start generating (“constrained on” payments).
These are very different functions, and should not be confused.
Moreover, conventional generators (coal and gas, for example) actually pay back to the system when constrained off, because of avoided fuel consumption.
Wind power, on the other hand, loses subsidy (about £50 per megawatt hour, or MWh) when it is told to stop generating, and therefore asks for compensation.
In practice, wind farms ask for compensation well in excess of the lost subsidy (about £79 per MWh on average in December 2013), meaning that they actually make more money when not generating than when selling electricity.
This substantial excess should be investigated by the regulator, Ofgem.
(Dr) John Constable
Renewable Energy Foundation
Having some web browsing trouble through erratic broadband speed inspired a thought.
If you needed an essential service at the same time each day, every day of the year, would you use a highly priced and wildly unreliable source if you had an alternative?
Denmark is able to offload its unusable wind power to Norway but only at below cost and because Norway, having adequate storage by pumped hydro, can accept it at any time.
The UK does not have this facility to any great extent.
Is it likely that it would rely on the excess of wind power from a separate Scotland when it could get reliable nuclear energy from France at lower cost?
I don’t really think that we are going to get fat on the proceeds of exported wind energy in the foreseeable future.
(Dr) A McCormick