Another Wind Power FAIL: Big Winter Blow Leaves 75,000 UK Homes Powerless

It’s this simple, really: when your power supply depends wholly upon the weather, expect it to vary entirely at the whims of Mother Nature.

Last year we brought you the story of what happened in Texas when Hurricane Harvey belted the Lone Star state: Last Man Standing: Nuclear Plants Power Texans During Deluge – Wind Turbines Automatically Shut Down During Hurricane Harvey

And how another big blow left Puerto Ricans powerless as Hurricane Maria splattered turbine blades and solar panels across the Island: Weather Dependent Wind Power: Leaves Hurricane Victims Powerless

Britain was an early signatory to suicidal renewable energy policies. Here’s a take on what that insanity is costing British power punters.

Wind farms paid £100m to switch power off
The Telegraph
Robert Mendick
8 January 2018

Wind farms were paid more than £100 million last year to switch off their turbines and NOT produce electricity, the Telegraph can disclose.

The payments – equivalent to £2 million a week – were made to the big energy firms that own the giant wind farms.

Incredibly, the wind farms receive on average 40 per cent more cash when they are switched off than when they are producing electricity, according to an analysis of official figures.

The think tank which carried out the study said it was “a scandal” that the big energy companies were more profitable when turned off.

The turbines have to be shut down at certain times because Britain’s electricity network is unable to cope with the power they produce. The wind farm owners then receive compensation – called ‘constraint payments’ – for not producing electricity.

The money is paid out by the National Grid but is ultimately charged to consumers and added on to electricity bills.

The scale of the constraint payments has ballooned in the past five years, according to the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), which carried out the research.

According to the REF, constraint payments totalled a record £108 million in 2017, compared to less than £6 million in 2012. In the past five years, wind farm owners have been paid £367 million in constraint payments.

Almost all the payments were made to wind farms in Scotland which has seen a rapid growth in the industry. While England has largely put a brake on onshore farms, the Scottish government has continued to encourage the wind industry.

Dr Lee Moroney, REF’s lead researcher, said: “It is an absolute scandal. They make more per megawatt hour [unit of electricity generated] when they are told to stop generating than when they are selling electricity to consumers.”

REF research – based on official, publicly available data – shows that wind farms are currently being paid compensation of about £70 per megawatt hour (MWh) to switch off. In comparison they are typically paid £49 per MWh in a consumer subsidy when producing electricity. The subsidy was introduced to encourage a growth in renewable energy source and is added on to household electricity bills.

Whether supplying electricity or not, the wind farms also receive the wholesale price for the electricity they produce.

The REF pointed out that EDF Energy which owns Fallago Rig, a wind farm in Scotland, has lodged a plan to extend the wind farm even though it received one of the highest constraint payments last year.

The National Grid said the wind constraint payments were “the most economically efficient way of managing additional green capacity”.

A spokesman said: “National Grid balances the country’s supply and demand of electricity minute by minute, and it also transports electricity from where it is generated to where it is needed. As part of its role, it can sometimes ask generators to come on or off the grid to keep the system balanced – ensuring that there is energy across the UK whenever and wherever it is needed.”

Emma Pinchbeck, RenewableUK’s Executive Director, said: “Constraint payments have been the cheapest way for National Grid to run the electricity network within its current limits.

“Wind farms are compensated because being told to switch off means a significant loss of revenue from generating power, and causes wear and tear on the turbines.”
The Telegraph

Godfather, please tell us how to get in on this constraint payment racket?


Time to Pinch yourself, Emma: and then explain, with a straight face, how putting them into lock-down causes “wear and tear on the turbines”?

True it is that these things have an economic lifespan less than half the 25 years claimed by wind industry spruikers, but wearing out when they’re shut down too only highlights the economic nonsense of wind power.

And Emma Pinchme’s claim that paying power generators to NOT deliver power amounts to a brilliant economic windfall for power consumers takes us all on a trip with Alice down the rabbit hole.

There aren’t too many ‘business’ that get paid handsomely to refrain from doing what they’re supposed to do best. Mobsters being paid by their stand-over victims to not do what they do best – breaking legs and shot-gunning kneecaps – springs to mind. Don Corleone would have salivated at the opportunity to rake in $millions from not doing anything at all.

Delivering power at crazy, random intervals doesn’t just help to line the pockets of wind power outfits for doing nothing at all, it also crashes grids and causes mass blackouts.

We’ll go back to visit a Ghost of Christmas past when, in 2013 (and not for the first time, and not for the last time) tens of thousands of British households were left freezing in the dark, thanks to the chaos delivered by weather-dependent wind power. [There’s a serious flaw in The Telegraph’s analysis, but we deal with that below]

Wind farms handed £5 million to switch off turbines as thousands of homes left without power
The Telegraph
Simon Johnson
30 December 2013

Wind farm companies were paid almost £5 million to switch off their turbines while storms lashed the UK over the festive period and tens of thousands of homes were left without power, according to figures published today.

The ‘constraint payments’, which ultimately come from household bills, were payable when the National Grid was unable to cope with the extra power produced during the recent bout of stormy weather or usage was low.

More than £4.8 million has been paid out to wind farm companies since December 15, according to figures compiled from official data, almost as much as was handed over in the whole of 2012.

The total included more than £1.2 million during the first of the recent storms, on December 19, followed by nearly £800,000 on Christmas Eve, more than £400,000 on Christmas Day and nearly £300,000 last Friday.

The money was paid to switch off turbines over a period when winds of up to 100mph hit Britain, with the storms leading to a spate of deaths, travel chaos for millions of people trying to get home for Christmas and power cuts for thousands of homes.

Anti-wind farm campaigners said the figures would infuriate hard-pressed households and demonstrated that wind farms were being erected faster than the National Grid can absorb the electricity they produce.

It was reported on Boxing Day that constraint payments of £30.4 million had been paid out in 2013 compared with £5 million the previous year.

However, this did not include the money handed out to switch off turbines during the Christmas week storms and the total has since increased to £32.6 million. With more stormy weather forecast over New Year, the total is expected to rise further.

Murdo Fraser, a senior Tory MSP and wind farm critic, said: “Families who are struggling with overstretched household budgets at Christmas time and have to meet ever-increasing energy bills will be horrified to see such vast sums of their money being paid to wind power companies for doing nothing.

“This exposes once again the over-reliance on wind developments as part of our energy mix when the Grid capacity doesn’t currently exist to properly utilise the power produced.”

The constraint payment figures were compiled using official data by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a charity. The first bout of storms saw energy companies paid £653,727 on December 18 and £1.24 million on December 19 to switch off turbines at 31 wind farms.

A further £113,826 was paid out on December 21 and £248,399 the following day before the payments spiked again on Christmas Eve as storms tore across Britain.

As around 75,000 homes were left without power, the wind farm companies were paid £787,959 to switch off turbines at 18 of their developments. Around 50,000 households remained without power on Christmas Day when £432,445 of constraint payments were made.

Another £287,454 was given to the energy firms on December 27 and £126,827 on December 28, according to the figures.

The National Grid has said the system is needed to balance supply and demand and the money handed to wind farms make up only a small proportion of constraint payments made to generators of all types.

A spokesman for RenewableUK, the lobby group representing wind farm companies, said: “December has been a record-breaking period for the amount of clean power generated by wind, with the most electricity we’ve ever generated in a month – more than 2 million megawatt hours.

“It’s very easy to turn a wind turbine on or off compared to other forms of generation such as a nuclear power station. That is partly why the National Grid sometimes calls on wind developers to constrain their power.”
The Telegraph

Wind spinners, RenewableUK reckon that it’s “easy to turn a wind turbine on”.

The wind cult certainly can’t be accused of a lack of self-belief, but, despite all their bluff and bluster, Mother Nature still has a role to play in that equation. Turbines don’t just get ‘turned on’ – because no wind = no wind power.

But it’s on the other side of the equation where The Telegraph really gets blown off course.

The article says that wind speeds “of up to 100mph hit Britain”. Which translates to 160 km/h.

In being paid millions of pounds to ‘shut down’, wind power outfits in Britain have probably pulled off the greatest con job in history. You see, no wind turbine ever built can withstand operating when wind speeds reach 100 mph (160 km/h). Indeed, they’re automatically designed to shut down when wind speeds reach barely half that.

Throw a gale force breeze at these things and they go into an automatic shutdown, as appears on German turbine maker, Siemen’s website – which has this to say about the automatic shutdown of wind turbines when wind speeds hit 25m/s (90km/h or 55mph):

Nature presents us with different kinds of challenges. High wind can create extremely high loads, and as a result wind turbines are normally programmed to shut down if the 10-minute mean wind speed exceeds 25 m/s. This may pose a significant challenge for the grid system – for example, if turbines in large wind farms shut down simultaneously.

It was precisely that feature of their ‘design’ that led to South Australia’s Statewide blackout on 28 September 2016, when a typically vigourous spring storm (with 100 kph winds) led to the automatic shutdown of its entire wind farm fleet, plunging the whole State into Stone Age darkness.

The moment wind speeds hit 55 mph (or 90 km/h) Britain’s fleet of whirling wonders went into automatic hibernation to prevent them from inevitable self-destruction. As in this video:

And in this video:


Simon Johnson and The Telegraph need to dig a little further next time the weather turns on its best, in order to avoid being blown away by RenewableUK’s blustery bollocks in future.

And now for another example of the wind industry getting caught out gilding the lily.

Green activists withdraw adverts which falsely claim price of wind farm energy has fallen by 50 per cent
Daily Mail
Liz Hull
27 December 2017

  • Environmental activists have withdrawn an advertising campaign after being accused of making false claims about the price of wind energy
  • The poster was launched in September by Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi
  • It claimed the price of wind farming had dropped by 50 per cent over two years
  • Following a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority, Greenpeace and a coalition of other environmental groups agreed not to use them again

Environmental activists have withdrawn an advertising campaign after being accused of making false claims about the price of wind energy.

The poster, launched in September by Doctor Who star Peter Capaldi and plastered around Westminster Tube station and across London’s transport network, claimed the price had fallen by 50 per cent over the past two years.

But, following a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority, Greenpeace and a coalition of other environmental groups and green energy suppliers agreed not to use them again.

The complaint was made by the Global Warming Policy Foundation, which said the ‘50 per cent off’ claim was ‘false and misleading’ because the price paid for electricity from offshore wind farms has not halved at all in recent years.

It said the campaign relied on prices quoted for the cost of wind energy in 2022 – £57.50 per megawatt hour, down from £117.14 in 2015.

Many of the wind farms supposed to produce this energy have not even been built yet and there is no guarantee they will go ahead.

It is understood that Greenpeace led the campaign, which was supported by other organisations including ScottishPower, SSE and World Wildlife Fund.

GWFP director Dr Benny Peiser said: ‘The claims in the Westminster offshore wind campaign are some of the most blatant distortions of the truth that I have seen in pro-wind advertising.’

He said the groups had targeted Westminster station in a bid to influence ‘MPs, peers and other decision makers’.

The ASA said it considered the case closed after Greenpeace gave an assurance that it would not use the disputed claims in any future campaign.
Daily Mail

Offshore wind power: ‘cheap’ at twice the price…

9 thoughts on “Another Wind Power FAIL: Big Winter Blow Leaves 75,000 UK Homes Powerless

  1. Reblogged this on UPPER SONACHAN WIND FARM and commented:
    Makes you wonder, in the face of such a catalogue of reasons to reject any further increases in wind power installations, when the ‘penny will finally drop’ with both the electorate globally and authorities guilty of wilful blindness.

  2. I am a supporter of your cause so it pains me when there are silly mistakes.

    In the article it refers to a video of a wind mill self destructing because of too much wind.

    The way the produced smoke hangs around in the video indicates that strongwind was not the cause.


  3. Wind turbines are sometimes proportioned so they they achieve higher availability (correctly: capacity factor or CF).

    The trick is to oversize the blades with respect to the generator. The rated output will be achieved at lower wind speeds, which of course, happen more frequently that incrementally higher wind speeds. So, for a small increase in capital cost, the CF might be 40% instead of 35% for a reasonably good on-shore site. Offshore CF’s are typically higher, but the principle still holds.

    Apart from the additional capital, there are two less pleasant corollaries:
    The turbines still lose the ability to remain in service at high wind speeds. Indeed, at not-so-high wind speeds. The top and bottom wind operating wind speeds follow each other.
    Because the turbines are unable to remain in service at lower wind speeds, they are parked at lower speeds, thus exposing the system operators to curtailment charges more often, for longer periods and hence at greater cost to the system. But Siemens and their clients are happy, because they maximise their income for not producing and simultaneously avoid exposing their expensive toys to the worst wind conditions.

    It is all part of a big game.

    Of course, if curtailment payments (ie payments for achieving nothing) were simply done away with in lieu of energy-only payments plus market rates for ancillary services, most of my objections would evaporate – along with a major portion of the business plan of some wind turbine owners.

    An example here: indicates that the relationships are complex and site-specific. This comment is provided only to explain several of the issues involved.

  4. Good piece, STT.

    In answer to Crispin, yes this is a scam and has become the new subsidy. Scotland continues to build wind farm after wind farm, some of which have not even turned a blade before they receive constraint payments.

    Wind is constrained off as a last resort because it’s the most expensive constraint and is done to prevent destabilisation to the grid. In other words the wind is blowing too hard and there is too much of it.

    The generator is paid for the loss of the electricity and for the loss of subsidies.

    The £108 million paid in 2017 by way of constraint payments is only the transparent part of the story, however. There are constraint payments, totally opaque, which are not in the public domain but which were shown in 2011 to be almost the same sum as those which are known.

    This is an abysmal state of affairs as the money is paid from the pockets of all consumers.

  5. To further illustrate the point, please find my footage below of the turbines cutting out in high winds at Cape Bridgewater.

    The question I am interested in is why are turbine outfits in the UK being paid to shut down in high winds when they would have to shut them down anyway? They feather the blades to protect the structure from damage. Sounds like a bit of a scam they’ve got going there.

    Another one!

    And if the weather is becoming so unpredictable due to so called man made climate change. Why on earth are we building weather dependant infrastructure to generate electricity?

    This becoming a joke.

    A dangerous joke!

  6. Of course the other side can attribute all phenomena of this kind to the indifference of climate change deniers who oppose effective measures against the climate change that causes these “big winter blows”.

    So every blackout has instant finger pointing of blame from two directions.

    Has “mother nature” become not just a weapon of war but also a political football for left vs right incriminations?

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