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Grid balancing has become an important aspect for the power grid in matching the supply of energy to demand. In more recent years this has become less predictable with more renewable energy being installed into the grid.
This has resulted in wind farms being turned off at night time, when it is windy, but there is no demand. In Scotland this has resulted in payouts, most recently over £6m in 33 days has been paid by the grid to wind farms to not generate electricity.
Constraint payments are made to other electricity suppliers as well as wind. In 2011/2012, payments by the National Grid in the UK totaled £324 million of which £31 million went to wind. In 2012/2013, thanks to improved transmission capability, they were £130 million of which only £7 million were for wind.
This temporarily excess electric energy could alternatively be used in electrolysis of water to make high purity hydrogen fuel used in fuel cells. In areas with little hydroelectricity, pumped storage systems such as the Dinorwig Power Station can allow the energy to be used for operational reserve or at times of peak demand rather than run a natural gas peaking power plant.
- "Grid pays £6m to turn off wind farm turbines". Herald Scotland. 2013-05-15. Retrieved 2013-11-11.
- "How we balance the country’s electricity transmission system". National Grid. Retrieved 2013-11-11.