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Wind Farms in U.K. Turn Back On After Worst Gales in 25 Years

Dec. 9 (Bloomberg) -- Scotland’s wind farms returned to normal operations after the strongest gales in 25 years triggered protective mechanisms that brought them to a halt.

Almost two-thirds of Britain’s 5.25 billion pounds ($8.2 billion) of wind-power capacity stopped yesterday, National Grid Plc said, with one unit catching fire. 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 has been disrupted and there have been huge amounts of structural damage,” said Niall Stuart, the Glasgow-based chief executive officer 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. Wind availability's importance is growing as a way of predicting power supplies as the country strives to boost the number of turbines almost six-fold to reduce reliance on fossil-fueled generation and meet European emissions targets.

Infinis Plc, the renewables company owned by Guy Hands, is investigating how 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.

“Incidents like this are extremely rare,” said Robert Norris, a spokesman at RenewableUK, the wind-industry group. There has been a small number of fires at turbines in the past 20 years, he said.

Turbines Restart

Scottish Power, a unit of Iberdrola SA, the world’s biggest renewable developer, SSE Plc, EON AG and Centrica Plc, Britain’s biggest energy supplier, said their turbines had resumed operations.

The machines are designed to automatically shut when winds blow above 25 meters a second, or 56 miles an hour, Greg Clarke, a spokesman for SSE in Perth, Scotland, said by telephone. They automatically start again when the speeds drop, he said.

Wind farms were supplying almost 1,500 megawatts to the electricity network as of 12:45 p.m. local time, according to National Grid Plc data. They provided 2,999 megawatts yesterday before about half of that halted, the data show.

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

Three of EON’s wind farms, affecting almost 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.

Power stations are connected to the electricity network via cables, which can be affected by blustery conditions. Electricite de France SA said its Hunterston B-8 nuclear reactor, on Scotland’s western coast, halted yesterday “due to grid issues during extreme weather.”

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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