Wind farms were paid more than double the market price to stop generating electricity this week, despite the country facing an increased risk of blackouts this winter.
Strong wind conditions in the early hours of Monday and Tuesday morning threatened to overwhelm the grid with more subsidised power than needed, forcing National Grid to offer lucrative payouts of between £58 and £115 per MWh to turn the turbines off.
The payouts stand well above the current market rate of around £45/MWh to compensate wind farms for the subsidies they might otherwise have earned.
National Grid balances the country’ electricity needs by paying generators to cut or ramp up power supplies to match demand. It is forced to give wind farms so-called “constraint payments” to turn off when their output surges when consumers need electricity the least.
But market analysts say that payments to reduce wind power are becoming increasingly common as the number of turbines grows.
Cornwall Energy analyst Thomas Edwards said: “Payments in this range now happen fairly often over mornings when there is high wind, low demand and coal and gas plant begin to ramp up.”
One power market participant said National Grid was effectively “paying the cost of a poor system and network design”.