Lightning Protection Devices For Wind Turbines And The Green Energy Market

Although there are few people in the modern time who would argue against green energy production techniques like wind and solar systems being viable as a way to generate power, these industries still face opposition from an economic standpoint.  It is an unfortunate aspect of society that something must not only be more effective but also less expensive than an opposing thing in order to be considered “better”.  Even though there is no argument that wind and solar methods of energy production are cleaner and more economical from a fuel standpoint (wind and sun are free while fossil fuels have extraction costs associated) the total costs for production tip in favor of fossil fuels currently.  This is due to the infrastructure in place already to support the production of energy from fossil fuels, the incredible lobbying power of the fossil fuel industry, and the expense associated with the equipment involved in the higher tech collection processes’ related to solar and wind energy production. Additionally, the ongoing repair and replacement of wind and solar energy “manufacturing and collection” equipment in the field drives these energy production methods up.  Energy production using fossil fuels is crude and simplistic, using the burning of a fuel source like coal or oil to turn turbines and generate electricity. Aside from the costs of the fuel and the fixed costs of storage and transport of the power, there are few technical advances happening that would require new equipment. Energy production using these methods is understood by the public to be damaging to a certain level to the environment and people’s overall health, but because it is less costly than a cleaner alternative, it continues to be accepted.  Unfortunately, people are willing to put a price on their own health and well-being, and that of their descendants,  because of their desire to pay the lowest amount monthly for their power bills. As a result, the acceptance of new research funding that would further the technology involved in green processes and bring down the costs over time, gets cut from budgets.  Consumers want to pay the lowest amount right now, and will generally support the dirtier methods as a result. The argument of the superior methods being better fall on deaf ears as consumers recognize that “better”  most times costs more. 

Fortunately, advances are being made in the private sector business community in order to lower costs associated with clean energy production.  For the most part, these advances are coming in the forms of ways to reduce operating expenditures, and the development of systems and devices that will protect the equipment involved in the process in order to extend its usable life span. Basically if the world has  not yet developed cheaper versions of the equipment itself, the focus must be on making that equipment useful for longer periods than before, shaving costs off by pushing equipment life-cycles and replacement dates further off into the future. The longer a piece of equipment can be in the field in a usable capacity, the lower the costs of doing business get, and hopefully this can be driven down to a point of equaling fossil fuel production costs.  If the two opposing methods were pitted side by side for public scrutiny and they both cost the same, there is no debating which would be the chosen method.  If alternative energy also had the ability to have costs brought down even further in order to provide a cheaper and cleaner production method, then the method would find acceptance with the public. Through advances in lighting and surge protection devices by Raycap and other companies, this future is quickly becoming the reality of the present.

Wind power production relies upon large towers containing turbines to be positioned in areas where they can be buffeted by unobstructed wind flow. This process is accomplished by positioning windmill blades against the wind flow on the tower, allowing that wind flow to turn the turbines by pushing on the blades.  Inside of the towers themselves is equipment that controls the process itself and harnesses the electricity that is produced.  This equipment is sensitive and expensive, and is also connected in a chain via both power and data transfer lines. This weakness presents one of the largest costs to the industry, coming in the form of damage that is caused when lightning strikes near the tower or on the blades.  The expensive equipment that is within the towers themselves is protected in multiple ways, but a lightning strike, even nearby the turbine produces a power surge that is strong enough to destroy nearly any electrical component.  The electronic circuitry of modern equipment cannot withstand the overload of electricity found in a lightning-sized power surge, and will nearly always need repair or complete replacement if it comes in contact with a surge of this magnitude.  When the lightning strikes the tower or blades, there is damage produced in the form of explosion and fire at the strike point, but the subsequent surge then couples into power lines and attached or adjacent equipment causes even further damage.  Because equipment is chained together via power and data cables, the electrical surge can easily move from component to component, damaging equipment that is great distances from the original strike point.  If the damage could be more isolated, it would be expected to produce a certain amount of damage but the overall damage to chained components in the system could be minimized or even eliminated. This would cut costs by extending the life span that is expected from equipment in the field. Because of the natural attraction of lightning to the tallest structure in an exposed area, lightning strikes to the wind towers is expected.  One key to bringing costs in line with fossil fuel production lies in the surge protection devices that prevent power exceeding a specified level from moving down the chain.

Raycap produces the world’s leading technological solutions for surge protection, and specializes in the unique needs of green energy industries like wind and solar power production. Through the use of the most robust housings and components, our SPDs will withstand large scale power surges that would completely destroy competing products, leaving your equipment exposed and vulnerable to subsequent strikes and surges.  In addition, Raycap components have a unique “always on” functionality that will require no resetting or replacing after a strike happens.  Other SPDs will need to be turned back on or completely replaced in order to restore functionality to the effected wind turbine, causing offline statuses during peak production times, and leaving the equipment vulnerable. If the turbine is not producing while the wind is blowing, surplus power is not being generated using a fuel source that is free but is not always available. By extending the uptimes of wind towers through a faster and easier restoration by workers to a functional status, costs are once again reduced.

The future of the power production industry is undoubtedly clean technology. The timeframes for widespread adoption may be slowed by debates over costs and deniers, but every day these costs are being reduced by technologies like ours which make systems more efficient and able to produce higher capacities. Through a more globalized adoption of protection equipment like Raycap’s within wind power systems, we will see the eventual lowering of total costs to consumers past the point of fossil fuels, thus eliminating an old, dirty and outdated form of production.  In the same process, we will be contributing to the betterment of the world through a cleaner atmosphere and reduced pollution levels.  Reduced greenhouse gasses through the elimination of dirty production methods will help to improve our planet, and ultimately save people money at the same time.

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