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REF question energy constraints

The Renewable Energy Foundation has raised concerns regarding National Grid’s decision to pay wind farm owners to stop generating power and keep supply and demand balanced.

According to the REF, wind farms have been paid £43m to switch off turbines this year.

National Grid has said the wind constraints in October were a result of high wind and outages required to reinforce the transmission network.

These reinforcements, they said, will increase the capacity to transport more energy, but while doing the work, National Grid need to take parts of the network out of service which reduces the capacity and leads to the company needing to constrain some energy in the interim.

An Ofgem spokesperson 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. Last year Ofgem approved a major eight year network investment programme to address this through renewing and building new capacity.

“Ofgem sets National Grid strong financial incentives to manage these costs as efficiently as possible. We also have powers to take action against licensed generators if we consider that they are gaining excessive benefit when constraints occur.

“These powers cover incidents where a generator acts in an uneconomic manner to create or exacerbate a constraint with the aim of benefitting from that constraint. They also cover incidents where generators charge an excessive price to reduce generation through the balancing mechanism.

“Since we obtained these powers, prices paid to generators by National Grid to curtail wind have fallen.”

According to Ofgem, the average price paid to wind farm operators to reduce generation prior to the powers coming into force in 2012 was £197/MWh. The average price paid in 2014 (Jan-6 November) was £83/MWh.

Regen SW chief executive Merlin Hyman told H&V News: “The confusingly named anti renewables lobby group the Renewable Energy Foundation is turning the selective use of statistics into an art form. National Grid pays all electricity generators compensation, known as constraint payments, when they have to reduce their output to ensure supply and demand match. 

“According to National Grid figures in 2011/12 constraint payments were £324 million of which just over 10% went to wind farms, about £34 million. What we should be focusing on is upgrading our transmission infrastructure and smarter use of energy to reduce the need to pay any generator to switch off”.

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