Payments to green energy firms under a controversial government scheme that compensates them for wasted power have soared by more than 1,300%.
About £35m has been awarded since the start of the financial year to the owners of 21 renewables projects — all of them in Scotland — because Britain’s power network could not cope with the energy they produced.
The figure is a huge increase on the £2.4m paid in 2011-12 under the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change’s “connect and manage” scheme.
Campaigners warn the compensation payments, paid for by the public through their electricity bills, will continue to increase as more wind farms are built. A 2009 report by Frontier Economics for regulator Ofgem estimated the cost of the scheme would reach £2bn by 2020.
The scheme, launched in 2010, encourages developers to build renewable projects in areas where the national grid is in need of costly upgrades.
It means the network cannot always cope with the amount of electricity they generate. In the case of wind farms, payments can be made if operators are asked to power down during heavy winds but the scheme will also compensate green energy firms if they cannot export power to the network while maintenance and upgrade work is carried out.