Wind Farms Paid Not To Produce - A Lesson In Energy Transmission & Storage


photo: Brain Forbes/Creative Commons

It may seem like stupidity embodied on the face of it, but six Scottish wind farms have been paid the equivalent of $1.46 million to not operate last month, EarthTimes reports. The reason is only going to become more important as renewable energy sources account for ever greater portions of our electricity supply.On the 5th and 6th of April the UK electric grid couldn't handle the power produced by the Scottish wind farms, which have a combined capacity of 5GW.

The original pice quotes from a 2010 study arguing that wind power installations in the UK have outpaced the ability of the grid to accommodate the extra power:

The outstanding major concern in the work reported here, and one with very serious implications--especially for the United Kingdom with its predominantly island system with inadequate international interconnection capacity--is the extent to which subsidized wind power can, in practice, be used within the system without needing to be constrained off: In other words, wasted or exported at whatever market prices, perhaps disadvantaged ones, prevail elsewhere.

In other, other words, transitioning off fossil fuels is as much about putting up wind turbines and solar panels as it is ensuring that the power produced can get where it's needed--as well as ensuring that there is adequate energy storage available to handle excess power when produced, so power plants down have to shut down and so that it can be made available during those mostly rare occasions where the unfavorable conditions for generating power from both solar and wind prevail.

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Tags: Renewable Energy | Scotland | United Kingdom | Wind Power