More criticism of wind power

More criticism for the Scottish Government’s energy policy today. Professor Paul Younger, of Glasgow University argues that a Scottish energy policy over-reliant on wind power would become a “foreign aid programme for England”.  Scotland would need to buy nuclear-generated power from England during peak demand at premium prices. He said Scotland needed different types of energy generation, “When you look at countries like Denmark, which have gone all out for wind, Denmark’s energy sector is a very expensive foreign aid programme for Germany.”

Then the managing director of RWE npower renewables said marine and tidal power technologies are unlikely to be commercially viable until into the next decade. Ms Lynch Williams said: “I believe at some point in my lifetime marine will make a significant contribution but not in the next five to seven years. We need to get beyond research and development and into proof of concept. Even at proof of concept level you are seeing large subsidies. From our perspective, we fundamentally believe to deliver 2020 targets and probably up to 2030 we have to rely on technology which is proven.”

This means that onshore wind will have to be mainstay of the Scottish Government’s 2020 renewables target.

The cost of constraint payments to wind farms were highlighted in the Daily Record. They report that Scotland’s biggest energy firms have been paid £12million to shut down their giant turbines when the weather is too windy. In total, more than £18million has been given to the owners of 19 windfarms since 2010 to stop them producing more electricity than the National Grid can cope with.

The figures were collected by the Renewable Energy Foundation, a think tank who oppose the spread of windfarms. REF director John Constable said: “Consumers have every right to resent these payments and feel they are not getting value for money. The scale and pace of the Government’s ambition, both at Westminster and Holyrood, is exceeding our technical grasp to deal with wind power at reasonable cost to the taxpayer. This is the shape of things to come. It is not going to be a few million pounds a year. It is going to be tens of millions. This is simply not an efficient way of dealing with wind energy on the system.”

However, power companies defended the payments. An npower spokeswoman said: “The number of times that windfarms are constrained off is very small compared to conventional power stations, and this only occurs when the wind farm represent the cheapest option to National Grid”. Ofgem also argue that network improvements will reduce constraint costs.

In summary, today’s news confirms our view that marine energy is a future technology unlikely to contribute significantly to the 2020 target. The Scottish Government’s energy strategy is too reliant on onshore wind generation, although constraint payments is not a significant issue.

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