Protecting Wind Turbines
The development of new and more innovative energy sources is critical to the ongoing development of the world. The human population is growing every year, and as it does so does the reliance upon energy to keep the innovations they have made moving forward. Every aspect of human life involves energy consumption of some kind, and outside of the food we eat this energy is produced to allow us to use devices to make our lives more convenient. As the population swells, so does the need to produce more and more electricity to satisfy this need, and the costs of production of that electricity are one of the biggest issues facing the world today. Inflation is now a global issue, and everything is costing more to produce and transport. This makes the development of new and alternative sources of energy more important than ever before, not only to satisfy the demand but also to help bring down the production costs themselves. There are no new innovations that are improving the cost basis of fossil fuel production methods, so the world is looking to wind and solar as the possible methods that will create less expensive power. The ongoing trajectory of costs involved in producing power these ways show promise.
The costs of wind power production do not involve the purchase of a fuel source, as the wind is free. Instead, the costs are seen in the ongoing operation and maintenance of the systems, as the equipment to generate this energy is expensive and at risk of damage. Wind towers must be positioned in unobstructed and open areas so as to harness the majority of the wind, but this setup also puts them at risk for lightning strikes. At any time there are more than 1700 active lightning-producing storms globally, and every flash of lightning poses a risk to nearby wind towers. The lightning usually strikes the tower top or the blades, creating damage at the strike point itself. But this then allows for a massive power surge to enter the structure and follow any conductive path towards the earth. Any equipment used in the process is at risk of damage from this power surge, and only through the construction of better materials and systems can these forms of damage be minimized. The construction of the blades using better composites that can withstand lighting strikes can keep towers functioning even after a strike. The integration of surge protection devices inside the turbines can protect the equipment in the structure from surge damage, and ultimately also helps keep the systems functioning for longer periods of time. This reduction in maintenance costs combined with the production of more power during the times when the wind is blowing help to make a more efficient and cost effective system, and draws us closer every day towards power that is less expensive to make than fossil fuel methods. The future is near, and is driven by the wind.