National Grid spent £82m on wasted power last month

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National Grid was forced to dish out over £82million to wind farm operators to get them to turn their turbines off last month as it scrambled to stop the UK’s energy system from becoming overwhelmed. While the energy network operator has raised the alarm over potential supply shortages this winter, wind farms are currently generating vast amounts of energy. In fact, this month a record amount of electricity has been delivered to the grid by Britain’s on and offshore wind farms. 

But instead of this calming fears of potential blackouts, which National Grid ESO warned in its Winter Outlook is an “unlikely worst-case scenario” if Britain can’t shore up enough energy imports from Europe in January and February, the excess wind power threatens to overload the grid. 

This is why National Grid forked out £82million to wind farm operators to get them to turn their turbines off to help balance the grid so it could keep delivering power to homes and businesses as normal. 

A National Grid ESO spokesperson said: “Like many system operators across the world, we make constraint payments to help us keep the electricity network in balance at all times. These payments to temporarily reduce generation output are more economical than to over-build expensive new infrastructure.

“We constantly analyse the balance between constraint costs versus the cost of building new assets and are working with industry to reduce the impact of network constraints whilst building a greener system.”

However, if the UK had a greater capacity for energy storage, which could help contain the power generated by wind when the grid doesn’t need it, the turbines perhaps would never have needed to be switched off. 

Greater energy storage could also be vital for helping the UK stave off energy shortages and in turn, blackouts. 

Kona Energy, a UK-based startup has previously warned that the country is spending millions a day by asking wind turbines to be turned off. 

The company tweeted: “Over £140,000,000 spent in November preventing wind turbines and other generators from producing energy, replacing that demand elsewhere.

“A severe lack of energy storage is costing billpayers millions and millions pounds. We need more storage capacity ASAP!”

This analysis was done using figures that were taken from National Grid’s ESO’s Thermal Constraint Costs Data. 

Speaking to, Andy Willis, the founder of Kona Energy, previously said: “A staggering amount of money is wasted on a an almost daily basis because the network lacks the capacity to process this clean energy.

“Getting more battery storage capabilities online is essential to reduce this waste and boost our energy security – expediting the connection process for waiting projects would save the bill payer hundreds of millions.”

Last week, the operator told that the UK is not out of the mud just yet in terms of potential blackouts this winter, despite the record amounts of power that wind is generating. 

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Michael McLaughlin from National Grid ESO explained: “There has been the right environmental conditions to support wind generation. This is fairly common for this time of year, for instance, last February, Wind produced almost double the electricity produced by gas.

“Operational margins for the rest of winter are still broadly in line with our Winter Outlook Report that we published in early October. “Our base case still shows sufficient operational surplus in each week for the rest of winter, even when we consider the expected natural variation of demand, wind and outages.We still expect that there may be some days when we need to use our operational tools.”

However, while some of the potential wind power is wasted, Dr Simon Cran-McGreehin, head of analysis at the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit, has claimed that “every wind turbine that we build boosts our energy independence”. 

He told “We have more wind turbines than we did last winter, so we get more wind power for any given type of weather – overall, 2022 saw record wind generation (26.8 percent of total power generation). Every wind turbine that we build boosts our energy independence.”

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