The gales battering Britain have been so strong that many turbines have had to be shut down for safety reasons and the National Grid forced to increase output from gas and coal fired power stations to make up the shortfall. At one site, near Huddersfield, in Yorkshire, 110mph winds were so strong that 15ft blades were blown off three turbines.
On other occasions, often during periods when the wind is still strong but slightly less gusty, operators have been asked to turn off their turbines, because they were flooding the network with more electricity than was needed.
On the 23 occasions since Christmas Eve on which this has occurred, operators have received more than £1 million from the National Grid.
The so-called “constraint payments”, ultimately passed on to household bills, are paid to suppliers at times when the network is unable to absorb excess power being generated.