South Scotland

EDF Energy paid £3m to shut down Fallago Rig turbines

Wind turbine
Image caption The energy firm said the payments helped to balance generation with customer demand

An energy firm has been paid almost £3m to shut down turbines on a wind farm because the National Grid did not want its electricity.

EDF Energy received £2.99m in six months to halt production at Fallago Rig wind farm in the Lammermuir Hills on land owned by the Duke of Roxburghe.

The "constraint payments" are given for not producing energy during periods of high generation or low demand.

EDF Energy said the system balanced generation with customer demand.

Turbines can be shut down when it is too windy in order not to overload the National Grid.

It can can also occur when maintenance work on the grid is being carried out.

The 48-turbine development in the Lammermuir Hills started generating electricity in January but only completed testing and came fully online in May.

The payment has been criticised by anti-wind farm campaigners.

Linda Holt, spokesman for Scotland Against Spin, said: "The massive constraint payments Scottish wind farms receive are the result of a skewed planning system which allows wind farms to be built before the infrastructure is in place to take all the energy they produce.

"Wind development in Scotland is out of control, wind speculators are mopping up millions in subsidies and we're all paying for electricity we can't even use."

The Duke of Roxburghe did not benefit from the constraint payments.

'Daily management'

According to figures provided by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity that publishes information on the energy sector, around half the £3m total was paid between 29 April and the middle of May, when the wind farm became fully operational.

However, EDF continued to receive regular payments during the summer when the warm weather would have led to relatively low demand.

A spokesman for French-owned EDF said all energy generators, regardless of the technology they use, have deals covering periods when the National Grid instructs them to temporarily decrease the power they produce.

He explained: "Such instructions from the National Grid are part of its daily management of the electricity system, as it works to ensure it maintains the right balance between generation and customer demand or to manage temporary technical limitations within the transmission network."

A National Grid spokesman said constraint payments to wind farm companies totalled £7m in 2012/13, adding that this represented only 4% of the £170m given to all electricity generators.

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