A UK think tank, Carbon Tracker, estimates that wasted wind power will contribute an additional £40 to the average household’s electricity bill in 2023, with potential increases to £150 in 2026. Wind farms are paid to shut down during high winds due to grid limitations, while gas-powered stations are activated, and these costs are transferred to consumers. Grid connection delays, especially between Scotland and England, exacerbate the issue.
The bottleneck in electricity transmission between regions, notably Scotland and England, causes the practice known as “wind curtailment,” leading to increased consumer costs. Carbon Tracker reveals that wind curtailment payments have already cost £590 million since the start of 2023, adding £40 to the average consumer bill. Predictions indicate that these costs could rise to £180 annually by 2030 due to the rapid construction of wind farms outpacing the development of power cabling infrastructure.
Carbon Tracker emphasises that building more grid infrastructure is a logical solution to the problem, offering a cost-effective alternative to mounting wind curtailment expenses. However, industry experts point out that historical approval times for new transmission cables range from 10 to 15 years, hindering swift resolutions.
RenewableUK urges grid modernization due to insufficient investment, emphasizing constraints and advocating for a 21st-century grid upgrade. The Energy Networks Association stresses the need for urgent action to address planning challenges.
The UK government aims to reduce the time required to build new infrastructure from 14 to seven years, but the efficacy of this plan before 2030 remains uncertain. Carbon Tracker warns that, based on current plans, wind generation capacity in Scotland is set to quadruple by 2030, while cabling will only double.
Despite Ofgem approving projects to alleviate transmission issues, including an undersea cable between Peterhead and Drax, Carbon Tracker underscores the urgency of increasing cabling in line with the growing wind generation capacity. The government’s offer of incentives to residents near new pylons and substations aims to expedite infrastructure development, but comprehensive, timely solutions are crucial to addressing the looming challenges in the UK’s energy landscape.