MacAskill Exposes the "Great Energy Switch Off" as Wind Farm Costs Approach £1 Billion

ALBA Depute Leader and MP for East Lothian Kenny MacAskill MP has today (Sunday) published figures which show that the curtailment costs paid by National Grid ESO to wind farms for switching off turbines when the energy produced can’t be used or exported were £229 million in 2020-1 alone with the total costs over five years approaching £1 billion at £838 million for the years 2017-18 to 2021-22.

The figures which were obtained from the House of Commons Library show that the costs to switch off wind farms were: £107 million in 2017-18; £162 million in 2018-19; £174 million in 2019-20; £229 million in 2020-21 and £166 million in 2021-22.

Branding this the “Great Energy Switch Off” Mr MacAskill is calling on the UK and Scottish Government to end the “absurdity” of tax payers paying wind farms astronomical sums to switch off energy in the midst of an energy crisis, when Scots families are struggling to pay their bills, and the “perversity” of wind farms being paid even more during the winter months.

In a statement Mr MacAskill said:

“At a time when Scots are struggling to pay their energy bills, renewable energy in Scotland is being switched off. Perversely, energy suppliers are paid more for that than for producing energy.  As offshore wind comes on stream, the great energy switch off will only increase.  The cost to the public purse will soon become billions. 

“There’s an added perversity compounding the absurdity in that payments to curtail are highest in winter, the time when people require energy most.

“Scotland has 25% of Europe’s offshore renewable resources and 60% of the UK’s onshore wind.

“We must end the absurdity of switching off energy at massive cost to the taxpayer and replace that with the storage of energy and the provision of hydrogen as an alternative energy source.  Other sites in Scotland, such as Cockenzie and Torness, are ideally placed to take advantage of these opportunities and should be prioritised.

“There are a range of schemes including in East Lothian that are good to go, for example, proposals to develop longer duration energy storage that require government investment so that we can develop prototype technology and then scale up from that. 

“The UK Government’s Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has failed to support such schemes.  The modest sums required to develop this technology are dwarfed by the costs of curtailment

“It is time for both the UK and Scottish Governments to end this absurdity and for them to step up and to provide the action and the investment that is needed to make Scotland Europe’s renewable energy powerhouse.  Only then will we be able to provide the valuable work, green jobs and new energy sources that Scotland needs.”

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