HARD-PRESSED customers have been forced to pay £1billion to wind farm operators to shut down turbines.
Figures show that this year alone, Scottish sites have been paid more than £136million for shutting down, all of which is charged to bill-payers.
This happens when turbines produce more electricity than is needed or that the network can distribute.
In such instances, the power cannot be stored or transmitted so energy firms instead have to reduce their output.
Wind farms are compensated for this in the form of 'constraint payments' from the National Grid Electricity System
Operator (ESO), which are passed on to consumers via energy bills.
Since 2016, the total cost of shutting down wind turbines across the UK has been £1billion.
National Grid ESO says it runs the electricity system in the most cost-effective way possible and the payments are made when it is economical to reduce output.
But data analysis by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF) shows the bill for this is soaring.
In 2010, these payments to Scottish wind farms cost only £174,000 - but a decade later the bill was £244million. Dr John Constable, director of REF, said: 'Wind energy is very, very expensive, in spite of industry and government propaganda to the contrary. The uncontrollable variability of wind inevitably causes very high management costs somewhere in the system.'
Forecasts from National Grid
ESO show total energy constraint costs - including gas, coal and wind - are expected to rise from nearly £1billion per year now to £2.3billion annually by 2026.
The majority of wind farms connected to the national grid are located in Scotland. Last year, Scottish sites received £133million of the £143million paid to wind farms across Britain.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: 'All regulation and legislation in respect of electricity generation is currently reserved to
UK ministers and regulator Ofgem. The Scottish Government has no role in setting constraint payments. The cost of constraints provides an important signal for when to invest in our electricity infrastructure.
'It's clear the threshold for significant new transmission infrastructure has been met and new transmission projects should be taken forward at the earliest opportunity to relieve constraints.'
A National Grid ESO spokesman said: 'We constantly analyse constraint costs versus the building of new assets and are working with industry to reduce the impact of network constraints whilst building a greener system.
'Our net zero market reform programme, the UK Government's review of electricity market arrangements and our network options assessment constraint management pathfinder are all focused on providing the necessary market reforms to minimise constraint costs in the future where that proves cost-effective.'