Storm Barra is making its presence felt. The Atlantic depression made landfall early on Tuesday morning with status red gusts reaching 130km/h in parts of Cork, Clare and Kerry.

The storm is now making its way further north and a status orange wind warning is in place for many western and some eastern counties.

The storm force winds are causing damage to infrastructure and around 49,000 homes and businesses are without power.

But what happens to our key renewable energy infrastructure such as wind turbines during times of storm force winds?

Earlier on Tuesday, the Irish Farmers Journal spoke to Wind Energy Ireland, the national association for the wind industry in Ireland.

Wind turbines

Wind Energy Ireland said that every wind turbine has an anemometer which tracks the direction and the speed of the wind.

In cases of very high winds, the first thing that would be done is the angle of the blades would be changed. This is sometimes called feathering and allows the blade to pick up less of the wind.

This allows the turbine blades to keep spinning and generating electricity even as the wind might be getting stronger.

Shut down

If the wind continues to get stronger, it may eventually reach the turbine’s cut-out speed.

Different makes and models of turbines have different speeds, but, at this point, the operator would switch off the turbine for safety reasons. They would then wait for the wind speed to drop to a point where it can then be operated safely.

Currently, 1,732MW of electricity is being generated from wind energy, well below a forecasted 2,813MW. This would indicate that some turbines have been shut off due to the storm.