A £1.2 billion subsea electricity cable was out of action for a month, leaving consumers to pay almost £40 million in compensation to wind farm companies. The Western Link interconnector tripped from February 15 to March 13 in the latest failure since it came onstream in 2018. Stretching from Hunterston, Ayrshire, to Connah’s Quay, Flintshire, the cable is arguably the key element of the Scottish government’s renewable energy network. Data collected by the Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), showed that £39.4 million had been paid in “constraint payments” to energy companies while it was down. Operators of onshore wind farms receive constraint payments to power down turbines when electricity supply outstrips demand and bottlenecks in the grid prevent exports. The money is paid out by National Grid ESO but is charged to consumers through electricity bills. Concerns about the reliability of the interconnector have been heightened by the failure of another subsea cable, the £515 million BitNed link between the Isle of Grain, Kent, and Maasvlakte in the Netherlands. An “unplanned outage” on March 9 is not expected to be repaired until May 8. The interconnector is said to be “vital to the energy needs of Great Britain and the northwestern European region”.
Times 23rd March 2021 read more »