Battered U.K. Turbines Switch On After Halting in 165 Miles per Hour Winds

The U.K.’s wind farms returned to normal after halting yesterday to protect them from the strongest gales in 25 years.

Almost two-thirds of Britain’s 5.25 billion pounds ($8.2 billion) of wind power capacity may have automatically stopped generating yesterday as gusts triggered protection mechanisms, National Grid Plc said. Gusts on the summit of Cairngorm, Scotland’s sixth-highest mountain, peaked at 165 miles per hour (265 kilometers per hour), the most since 1986, according to data on the U.K.’s Met Office website.

“It’s incredibly unusual wind speeds that we experienced, public transport’s been disrupted and there’s been huge amounts of structural damage,” said Niall Stuart, chief executive officer in Glasgow at Scottish Renewables, a lobby group that promotes cleaner energy.

Britain has about 4,000 megawatts of wind turbines linked to the nation’s electricity network, enough to supply 8 million European homes. Infinis Plc, the renewables company owned by Guy Hands, is investigating after one of its turbines caught fire yesterday in an incident involving a machine made by Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s largest turbine maker.

“The turbines started generating again after the storm force winds died down,” Paul Ferguson, a spokesman for Iberdrola SA (IBE)’s Scottish Power, said by telephone from Glasgow. “They operated as they are designed to do.”

EON AG said three of its wind farms, affecting nearly 100 turbines, stopped yesterday because of the high winds. They are running normally today, Cara Ponton, a Nottingham, England-based spokeswoman for the company, said by telephone.

“Wind turbines are designed to automatically shut down when wind speeds reach around 25 meters per second,” or 56 miles per hour, said Greg Clarke, a spokesman for SSE Plc in Perth, Scotland. “When wind speeds reduce to below 25 meters per second, the turbines automatically start generating again.”

Electricite de France SA’s Hunterston B-8 nuclear reactor halted yesterday “due to grid issues during extreme weather in Scotland,” said Sue Fletcher, a company spokeswoman in East Kilbride.

To contact the reporters on this story: Catherine Airlie in London at cairlie@bloomberg.net; Sally Bakewell in London at sbakewell1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Stephen Voss at sev@bloomberg.net

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