Record payout to big wind – for generating nothing

Ardrossan wind farm in North Ayrshire, Scotland Credit:

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“A record £4.8m was paid to wind farm operators in the space of one day, for switching off turbines when it became too windy.

More than 60 farms — most in Scotland — were compensated after electricity supply outstripped demand on October 8. The bonanza far exceeded the previous reported record of £3.1m, sparking fresh criticism of the Scottish government’s headlong rush towards green energy.

In exceptionally windy conditions, the National Grid cannot cope with the extra energy turbines produce, so firms receive “constraint payments” to shut down. Although most wind power comes from Scotland, households across Britain are funding the payments through their electricity bills.”

Source: The Times

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Tom Halla
October 28, 2018 11:58 am

Renewables are mostly subsidy mining, not actual power production, as 100% conventional backup is required.

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 28, 2018 12:35 pm

“Subsidy mining” – brilliant!
An unlimited license to drill right into my wallet! Pickpockets are outmoded.
I’d prefer lignite strip mining any day!

Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
Reply to  bonbon
October 28, 2018 7:10 pm

Given that a wad of folded money is a stratified form of wealth, subsidy mining is really a form of fracking wallets. Drill in with contracts then split the bills apart using regulated behaviours and presto, the money is extracted in a more efficient manner than ever before.

The back room boys are chortling all the way to the bank.

Nigel in California
Reply to  Crispin in Waterloo but really in Beijing
October 28, 2018 11:16 pm

Hahaha! That’s a good one.

Robert of Ottawa
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 28, 2018 12:57 pm

Swindle mills and subsidy farms

Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
October 28, 2018 2:30 pm

Robert of Ottawa

My home country going to pot because of the socialist green SNP!

I was told today by my local publican that a family with 6 children approaching university age are moving from SE England to Scotland to exploit the free higher education system they have there.

Not only is the rest of the UK paying for that but we’re subsidising the insane headlong rush to blanket Scotland with turbines and pay for their inefficiencies.

I was keen to retire back there in 3 or 4 years time but I think I’ll just go as far as Carlisle now. I refuse to participate in the left wing lunacy that’s contaminating the country.

The SNP are banging on about another independence referendum despite being whipped at the last one, using Brexit as an excuse for it now.

The sooner the country get shot of these rabid, self seeking fanatics, won’t be a day too soon.

Reply to  HotScot
October 28, 2018 3:19 pm

“I was keen to retire back there in 3 or 4 years time but I think I’ll just go as far as Carlisle now.”

There’s always Texas, sir. Happy to sponsor you and yours.


Reply to  sycomputing
October 29, 2018 12:48 am


The thought is never far from my mind.

Thank you for the invitation. 🙂

Reply to  HotScot
October 29, 2018 3:32 pm

Why not let Scotland go without bothering with another independence referendum, end the Barnett Formula (which gives Scotland higher government support than the rest of mainland Britain) and let them take over their own wind subsidies.

Bryan A
Reply to  Robert of Ottawa
October 28, 2018 3:29 pm

Just Mind blowing

Walt D.
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 28, 2018 2:40 pm

Samantha Cameron’s Father’s Energy Subsidy Tax

Joel O'Bryan
Reply to  Tom Halla
October 28, 2018 11:21 pm

If wind turbines are the quivalent of “subsidy mining” then solar is subsidy strip mining with nukes.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
October 29, 2018 2:47 am

+42 × 1042

Reply to  Tom Halla
October 29, 2018 12:29 am

If there is overproduction of a commodity the price should fall, or so the economists tell us.
If they are generating too much electricity then the price should fall as their overheads can be spread over a larger output.
After all they keep telling us that windmills are the cheapest way to generate electricity, so now show us!

Al Miller
October 28, 2018 12:00 pm

Perfect! Massive eyesores that kill endangered birds, raise the temperature and now require subsidies when they are actually working, as well as when they aren’t working
Just how retarded can unreliable get?
It’s beyond time for the taxpayers to revolt!

Reply to  Al Miller
October 28, 2018 1:22 pm

There was a revolt. It was called Brexit.

Leo Smith
Reply to  Ron Clutz
October 28, 2018 2:07 pm


Reply to  Ron Clutz
October 29, 2018 12:51 am

Ron Clutz

So far Brexit seems the only form of mining acceptable to the left, undermining.

D Cage
Reply to  Ron Clutz
October 29, 2018 11:57 am

And a fat lot of good that has done us. All it has achieved is to stop millions having any belief in democracy now we know what an utter sham it was.

R Shearer
October 28, 2018 12:06 pm

Chicks for free.

Dave Fair
Reply to  R Shearer
October 28, 2018 12:46 pm

Money for nothing.

BTW: Chicks are never free!

Reply to  Dave Fair
October 28, 2018 12:52 pm

Oh, that ain’t workin’.
That’s the way you do it.

Gary Ashe
Reply to  Dave Fair
October 28, 2018 6:22 pm

Some are less maintainence than others tho.
Infact some are worth a splash of old spice.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  R Shearer
October 28, 2018 6:07 pm

Only if you deliver and install kitchen appliances, IIRC.

Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 29, 2018 6:23 am

I can install the microwave ovens but I’m not moving the refrigerators.

October 28, 2018 12:10 pm

‘Constraint Payments’? I think it’s time business schools globally include a chapter in their textbooks that should be titled;

“Rorting your way to profit using government largesse”

You may or may not, think this is amusing but I’m actually being serious.

October 28, 2018 12:25 pm

Full details of constraint payments are given by REF:

October 28, 2018 12:40 pm

The King’s new clothes….. nothing new here, move along now. …..
Fake news, old news, dunno any more – been said so many times before – you’d think the politico Elite would have got the message by now? Probably DID, but don’t want to budge for obvious reasons.
Seen tonight’s German Election Results? The Greens gaining momentum over there, despite the effects of their policies – Energie Wende, etc. ….

Bruce Cobb
October 28, 2018 12:52 pm

Wait, I thought the Scots were known for their “thriftyness”.

Thomas Graney
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
October 28, 2018 1:08 pm

England is paying; they’re collecting. That’s thrifty, isn’t it.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Bruce Cobb
October 28, 2018 1:17 pm

I think you missed the part where everybody in the UK, not just the Scots, are footing the bill.8-)

A question.
Just how much power do these things actually supply when they don’t have to be paid to shut down because of high winds?
How much are they paid when the winds are too low to supply promised power?

(OK. That was two questions.)

Leo Smith
Reply to  Gunga Din
October 28, 2018 2:09 pm

the answer to the first:

I cant remember the answer to the second

Reply to  Bruce Cobb
October 28, 2018 8:50 pm

You can trust a Scot… to have no idea how to run a power grid. 😐

October 28, 2018 1:00 pm

Forgive me if I’m wrong, but for most of the industry I think the method that is used to stop producers from producing when there is a large surplus is for the price to go negative. So if the keep flooding the system with unwanted electricity then they start owing money instead of making money.

I’m pretty sure no one pays the Coal or Gas companies not to produce. I don’t think even the Hydro companies get paid to stop, even though the are in a position were the might really need to release water, like a flood. Wind Farms have no such need.


Dennis Sandberg
Reply to  schitzree
October 28, 2018 10:16 pm

Depends on the contract. Most wind generator’s are independent of the utility that is mandated (forced) to buy this trash virtue signaling power and pay full price for it. The wind generator has “grid priority”. The utility then sells it for much less than they paid for it, or in extreme cases pays some other utility to take it. The cost for this circus is passed on to their customers. This is what ignorant voters and corrupt government gets us.

Alastair McIntosh
Reply to  schitzree
October 29, 2018 6:33 am

Actually ‘take or pay’ contracts are common in gas supply contracts.

October 28, 2018 1:03 pm

I am in the wrong business.

Reply to  Ozonebust
October 28, 2018 1:49 pm

Aye , Most of us ARE! Went to Uni., Taught in College, Then went back to Practising what we preached …………. and then the Eco-Loons were let loose by some simple minded, er Liberal, Politicians and MSM to encourage them on their way…..
And you wonder why we want Brexit? I am not Gov employed, only their paymaster – but they have been allowed to run rings around us with legislation that we cannot effectively Live and work in a free world….

October 28, 2018 1:12 pm

Just like paying farmers $150. / acre to not plant barely when all they normally earn would be $50/acre when they actually grow it and sell it.

Gary Ashe
Reply to  Bill
October 28, 2018 6:31 pm

I Did crop protection for 2 decades for our dept of ag, over cereals and spuds.

Barley and wheat go around 4 ton an acre, in a good year.
Barley was about £120 a ton back then,

F. Ross
October 28, 2018 1:13 pm

Sounds kind of like paying wheat farmers not to grow wheat. Hmmm!

Reply to  F. Ross
October 28, 2018 1:55 pm

Sounds like paying french farmers to produce too muck milk then dumping tonnes of butter into the ocean to maintain prices.

Common Agricultural Policy: CAP, for short.

Reply to  Greg
October 28, 2018 2:43 pm

Aye, er Yes, kust like the fishermen throwing back their dead catch – couldn’t even transfer it to another boat’s unfulfilled Quota – so have to go out at risk to Life n Limb to catch more…. Sustainability ?

October 28, 2018 1:29 pm

A windmill sitting absolutely still is energy production in its purest, greenest, platonic form. It’s a wonder just to contemplate. If you sit absolutely still, you can hear the sound that zero emissions makes. Behind that, you can hear Gaia breathing. Ahhh…

Reply to  BallBounces
October 28, 2018 2:46 pm

That’s correct – the sound of a distant Diesel generator (sic) powering the Site maintenance equipment – Oil Heaters and control gear, etc to keep the Mill ready & pointed in the correct direction for that sudden Gasp on Demand of wind

October 28, 2018 2:06 pm

I’m going to demand “constraint payments” from my employer.
In exchange I’m going to do no work all.
Fair exchange is no robbery…_

October 28, 2018 2:27 pm

Stop breaking windows ?

michael hart
October 28, 2018 2:27 pm

Makes you wonder how much it would cost to pay them to go away and never trouble the national grid ever again. The insanity. Sometimes it’s scary.

Reply to  michael hart
October 28, 2018 2:57 pm

Mostly it’s scary.

October 28, 2018 2:28 pm

One of the few bits of “The good book”I like is, “As ye sow, so shall ye reap”


Gordon Hughes
October 28, 2018 2:42 pm

Details matter and the article doesn’t get the story right. The payments are made not because supply exceeds demand (which can be dealt with by very low prices) but because the grid has not got the capacity to handle the supply from particular locations, i.e. from specific wind farms or groups of them.
The failure lies in the way that use of the grid is charged for. Bidding for access to the grid where/when there is congestion would rapidly solve the problem. However, the Scottish Government resists this and the UK Government is just wet. So the game for wind farm operators is to build wind farms in locations that maximise their chances of being paid not to generate, while the Scottish Government is happy for English customers to pay the cost. If Scottish customers had to pay, their reaction might be rather different.

Reply to  Gordon Hughes
October 29, 2018 3:36 pm

Informative, thank you. Scottish Power recently announced that it was going over to entirely renewable generation, and with these subsidies to underpin its P&L account you can see why.

October 28, 2018 2:59 pm

Big “Green” has produced progressive returns, and is an unqualified profit sink with ecological disruption shifted and obfuscated.

Collin Sloan
October 28, 2018 3:28 pm

This should really work the other way around. The “green” producers should pay the coal producers for the lost efficiencies of power production requirements going up and down with the weather. Demand doesn’t really fluctuate in an unpredictable manner but wind and solar are introducing chaos to the system.

Coach Springer
Reply to  Collin Sloan
October 29, 2018 4:38 am

Good point.

October 28, 2018 3:51 pm

You’d think they could find something productive to do with excess electricity, if they have pay for it whether needed or not.

October 28, 2018 3:53 pm

anthony … “WUWT reader “auto” send in this tip:”…sent ?

Wallaby Geoff
October 28, 2018 3:54 pm

£4.8M (of other people’s money) for doing nothing. A perfect example of the socialist model at work. In Australia, a socialist state government paid $1 billion for not building a road.

Derek Colman
October 28, 2018 5:33 pm

The worst of this is that it disproportionately impacts the poor. They admit to 20% on our power bills for green measures, but I suspect it is more as they go in for creative accounting like not including the infrastructure cost. As a result we have increasing energy poverty. It is the poor families and pensioners who tend to have low efficiency heating systems and lack of insulation, who are hit most by this. My contention is that the cost of these reckless subsidies should be removed from our energy bills and moved onto income tax so that each pays according to their means.

Dave Fair
Reply to  Derek Colman
October 28, 2018 6:54 pm

From each according to their means, to each …..

Just don’t do stupid subsidies for costly, unreliable electric power sources.

Pop Piasa
October 28, 2018 6:48 pm

These “sustainable” things will keep costing the public money even after they have generated their last watthour.
A smart young entrepreneur somewhere will devise a good system for disposing of these eyesores while recovering the rare metals and recycling 97% of the construction materials.
The EPA will have to superfund turbine removals after carbon is vindicated and the devices are deemed dangerous to flying species and humans due to infrasound emissions and physical hazards.

Pop Piasa
Reply to  Pop Piasa
October 28, 2018 7:39 pm

We already know that the toxic wastes generated by the manufacture of “renewables” are considerable. Has anyone documented the wastes generated during “end of life” processing and disposition? This might rival the toxicity per per kilowatt hour of scrubbed coal… does anybody know the facts on this?

October 29, 2018 12:45 am

They couldnt possible pump the extra power into the grid and tell us to turn up the heating eh?

Oh no, they just shaft us for more cash. What a joke, what a scam.

M Courtney
October 29, 2018 3:24 am

If the grid can’t cope with the energy generated when the wind blows we do not need anymore wind capacity.

So no more wind power should be built in the UK.

Coach Springer
October 29, 2018 4:42 am

Goldilocks also ruined everyone’s porridge looking for the one that was just right so she could steal it.

October 29, 2018 6:53 am

The new spin cycle of life is 1) chase windmills for green energy, 2) charge for extra costs to extend transmission lines to those windmills, 3) maintain substantial back up capacity, 4) keep doing all the above because it pays well and the costs are distributed efficiently to someone else, 5) seek carbon taxes to offset high costs to favored rate payer groups along with other social spending enhancement and other vote buying and control efforts. It makes perfect sense from a backroom political control point of view, at least when mixed with ongoing dishonesty and standard cover up of policy mistakes mentality.

October 29, 2018 11:07 am

Ever since we’ve had distributed electricity the Grid has had to be balanced: supply must be matched by demand. But it’s not always possible to forecast them. So the Grid has a number of balancing mechanisms. Some are applicable when the demand is higher than expected such as calling for more generators to come on-line or asking big users to shut down demands. It has to pay for the measures. Some balancing measures are needed when the demand is lower than expected: one measure is to ask producers to reduce or constrain production. They get paid for this to compensate for loss of income. Now given a choice who would you choose to pay the constraint payments to? The most expensive producer or the cheapest? Me, all things being equal I would go for the cheapest. Which is one reason why renewables get proportionally more constraint payments than conventional plant. Note that all operators, coal, gas, nuclear and renewable may get constraint payments.

October 29, 2018 3:27 pm

We’re in the first few days of colder weather here in UK. I’m in a semi-rural corner of the Midlands and the temperature outside is a degree above freezing, so it’s not exactly midwinter conditions.

Nevertheless, at 2015 hrs electricity demand is 45GW, just on the line of amber conditions (it was higher at 1730). This is being supplied by

CCGT 21.71 GW (It maxes out on the scale at 27.5 GW)
Nuclear 5.78 GW
Coal 5.72 GW (was 6.72GW earlier)
Wind 5.13 GW (up from 4.7 GW at 1730, but still only half the contribution allowed for on its scale)
Biomass 3.02 GW
P/Hydro 1.49 GW
Hydro 0.49 GW
Dutch ICT 1.06 GW

Solar is at zero, of course.

Heaven help us in January/February.

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