United Kingdom

United Kingdom

UK considers paying businesses to use wind power at night

UK: Businesses in the UK could be paid to use electricity at night in order to reduce the curtailment payments made to wind farm operators.

Wind must be constrained to balance the grid
Wind must be constrained to balance the grid

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National Grid, whose job it is to balance the UK's electricity network, has proposed the move to counter the increase in payments made to compensate for the shutting down of wind farms during times of low energy demand.

Under the proposals, businesses with a high energy requirements, such as factories, would be paid to operate at night.

National Grid told Process Engineering that the plans are at an early stage, but that the company is working out details of how the service could be rolled out.

The intermittent nature of wind generation, and the tendency of wind to blow stronger at night when demand is lower, means that constraint payments are on the rise.

As more wind farms are connected to the grid, the cost of wind constraint has increased sharply, with payments up from £7.6 million (EUR 9.1 million) in financial year 2012/13 to an expected £27.9 million for 2013/14.

The government is committed to expanding the UK's installed wind capacity from its current 10GW, to 16GW by 2020, which would further increase the payments.

However, National Grid figures show that constraint payments to wind farms only amounted to around 10% of the total constraint payments made to energy generators.

While this is disproportionately high compared with the around 5% of the UK's energy supplied by wind, the vast majority of payments are made to coal and gas plants.

In order to keep its costs as low as possible, National Grid receives bids from generators for how much they want to be paid to ramp up or ramp down generation.

It is often cheaper to curtail wind than to reduce the energy produced by large power stations, and so wind receives disproportionately high payments.

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