An article in the Daily Telegraph claimed that households were wasting millions on constraint payments to “redundant” wind farms. But Alex Blackburne explains how its reporting is likely to be blurred with preconceived notions about the industry.
The Daily Telegraph is notorious for scaremongering the wind power sector. The newspaper continued its gripe with the industry last week by running a story about constraint payments.
It claims that the Government had admitted that “householders paid out £24m last year to wind farm owners who had to switch off their turbines because the conditions meant they could not operate”.
Whilst this did happen, it doesn’t show the whole picture.
“All forms of power generation receive constraint payments from National Grid if they’re told to switch off to avoid the Grid being flooded with too much power”, explained Robert Norris, head of communications at RenewableUK.
“National Grid states that the entire cost of the Balancing Mechanism, which ensured a constant power supply and includes constraint payments, was £708 million for the financial year 2010/11 – most of which went to coal and gas.
“So it’s important that the public should be told how much more these other forms of power generation receive in constraint payments – only a small proportion goes to wind in comparison.”
Under the headline, Householders waste £24 million subsidising redundant wind farms, you’d expect anything below to be a scathing attack on the industry.
Yet the Telegraph actually provide a logical answer, through energy minister Charles Hendry, who then questions the profitability of the renewables industry.
He said, “About £250m were paid last year in constraint payments of which only 10%, £24m, were paid to the wind sector.
“The Government… is trying to ensure that there are upgrades in many parts of the country to ensure the power can get to where it needs to be.
”Millions are being blown because it is too windy. I am a supporter of the Government intentions to increase renewable energy but it does seem daft because wind farm owners are having to be compensated when they are turned off”.
The Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), according to its website, “[promotes] sustainable development for the benefit of the public by means of energy conservation and the use of renewable energy”.
But, the organisation is irrefutably anti-wind. It has also spoken out over the supposedly “secret” payments to the wind industry.
Last year, Business Green asked Who are the Renewable Energy Foundation?.
“They are not a Foundation for Renewable Energy, as their name says and as any reasonable personwould conclude from their name – they actually exist to undermine Renewable Energy“, answered Dale Vince, founder of Ecotricity.
“It’s made for the anti-wind newspapers of course, like the Daily Mail and the Telegraph, who can quote from this organisation that appears, from their very name, to be all about supporting Renewable energy – adding weight to their anti-wind stance in print“.
What do you expect, though, from an organisation founded by Noel ‘Deal or No Deal’ Edmonds? No, really.
Calling for transparency over constraint payments, John Constable, director of REF, said, “The introduction of opaque trading arrangements to manage wind power is a very unwelcome step in the wrong direction and must be reversed without delay.
“It is time for the regulator, Ofgem, to do its job and step in to protect the consumer interest by ensuring that the UK’s electricity markets become more transparent not less”.
But Norris of RenewableUK, the trade and professional body for the UK wind industry, took REF’s words with nothing but a pinch of salt.
“Figures from the Renewable Energy Foundation have to be scrutinised carefully as this is an anti-wind industry campaign group, not an independent body”, he said.
“Reports like this don’t deter growth in the sector as the anti-green energy campaign groups have been making statements like this for some time, and the deployment of wind energy has increased steadily year on year despite their comments”.
In an age in which renewable energy is widely and rightly considered the saviour of our planet, such outright antagonism from supposedly esteemed sources is baffling.
A quick Google search for ‘renewable energy’ brings up hundreds of trade bodies and media outlets that do support the development of renewables, clearly showing that the anti-wind lot are firmly in the minority.
Therefore, continued investment in these technologies is imperative if we are to achieve a blue and green tomorrow.
Ask your financial adviser or fill in our form. It’s undoubtedly the smart, logical choice.