Ofgem today gave the wind farms a nice little earner in the form of a reduction on connection charges. However before the steam comes out of the ears and the hair is ripped from your head, read the reason. “But energy regulator Ofgem says they are charged too much under the current system, particularly because they only work intermittently.” Well that doesn’t quite stack up with Scottish Renewables quotes of output of over 30% of capacity. Fairburn managed 16% although the reason, according to the operator, for that is lack of connectivity. But Beauly-Denny has just switched on it’s first phase, Beauly-Dounreay has just been double wired as has Beauly-Peterhead, Beauly-Mossford is under construction. What this suggests is that connectivity improvements will increase the usable output if the industry are telling the truth. That taking into consideration, Ofgem had no need to provide windfalls to north of Scotland wind energy. Perhaps though Ofgem, who are the ones who know what power they are getting, consider that the charges are too steep on reduced output and have little expectation of installed output increasing supplies. Without a full analysis I cannot say if the reduction will increase investment but then distribution costs are minimal in comparison to the subsidies. What is a certainty is that mostly foreign operators will be pocketing the cash and re-directing it to areas outside the remit of HMRC. The aim to encourage more wind farm development in the far north whilst loading the added costs of hugely expensive infrastructure on the south seems a little naive but this is something that the trade bodies have been demanding for some years. Is this an own goal, a kick in the teeth to Highland residents or just a puff of wind? What is a certainty is that already very wealthy people will be ordering another Rolls or executive jet and we, the little people, will be paying for it. Plus Ça Change!
John Constable, Director of the Renewable Energy Foundation, commented: “Consequently, it creates a perverse incentive for developers to seek out locations where it is expensive to connect to the grid. This is counter-economic and dreadful news for the consumer. Whose side is Ofgem on?” Well we already know that John. The european carbonistas and the posh conferences and dinners of the Renewable Industry will have been influencing the senior echelons of Ofgem without much doubt and it is also true that many of the younger graduates are in the thrall of wind. Or am I just an cynic and a grumpy old man?