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Protection From Lightning Is The “X-Factor” Of Green Energy

Protection From Lightning Is The “X-Factor” Of Green Energy

The “green” energy production market is one that has been evolving on several important fronts for many years.  The basic premise behind it is not new, but as it is expanded and improved upon the potential for more widespread adoption for use in industries becomes more valid.  There are a few crucial elements that have been holding back wider spread rollouts of green technologies as a method of electricity generation for greater numbers of people connected to the existing electrical grid systems, but slowly and surely these factors have been overcome through technological advancement.  As the common conventional sources of power generation have little to no ability to technologically improve in order to solve existing issues, it must be assumed that once a critical level of technological advancement in the green energy market has been achieved, the new methods will replace conventional fossil fuel methods of production. So what are the issues and what is being done to solve them?

Before diving into the technological issues that have hindered more broad adoption of green energy technology on an industrial level, we must first understand the specifics of the technologies involved.  Generally green energy (also known as renewable or alternative energy) is a bread descriptive term that encompasses wind power, solar power and hydro-electric power.  These technologies are based upon different methods of causing turbines to be turned, which is the relatively standardized method that is used to generate and capture electricity.  The actual methods of generation and transportation/storage are applicable to all forms of power production including fossil fuel, and while advancements are being made to provide better functionality in these areas as well, the true differentiator between fossil fuels and green energy is in the ways that the turbines are turned.  Fossil fuels are used up by being burned, so their heat and gasses produce and turn the turbines.  The burning of oil, coal, wood and other fuels produces by-products that are known to harm the environment as well as the health of living things.  There are presently inadequate methods of reducing these product emissions and pollutants, creating a situation where it is widely known that damage is being done, but the levels of this damage are debated.  There is nearly no entity arguing that fossil fuel production does not pollute, the debate is how dangerous that pollution is.  In addition, there is a cost behind fossil fuels as they must be purchased in order to be burned.  The widespread use of these methods combined with an ever-increasing demand for power causes prices for fuels to increase continually due to the fact that there is a finite amount of fuel on earth.  As consumption grows, the stockpiles dwindle.  Eventually there will be a point where these methods exhaust the fossil fuel supply completely, thus forcing the adoption of different methods anyway.  Green energy production methods do not use the burning of a fuel source to turn the associated turbines, and instead utilize other methods to do so. Within the wind power industry, wind is utilized to turn large blades which are affixed to turbines. In the solar industry, sunlight is used to superheat liquids housed inside system plumbing, forcing an expansion and flow which turns turbines. In hydro-electric methods flowing water turns turbines, all producing electricity by using a flow source that is not burned or destroyed.  These sources are also free and unlimited.

So if the fuel sources that turn the turbines are free and the methods of transporting and storing the produced electricity product is the same across the different methods, then why is green energy not being adopted more quickly to replace as fossil fuels?  There is no argument that no by-products being produced is superior to pollution of any level, and that no cost for fuel is superior to even the cheapest things you can burn. The answers come in two critical places, availability and overall cost.

The availability of the fuel sources used in green energy production is not constant. Essentially, wind and solar power can only be produced when the wind is blowing or the sun is shining. For hydro-electric power to be used effectively, the community must be within a distance close enough to the flowing water to not lose the majority of electricity to the transport process.  This means that the fuel supplies are not currently enough to produce enough electricity to satisfy society as a whole, and in most places these methods can only be used to supply a portion of the necessary amounts.  Fossil fuels have the ability to be burned 24 hours a day, and while the supplies might be limited they are not limited to timeframes they can be used.  This fact essentially keeps the lights on 24 hours a day when using fossil fuels but cannot do the same using green energy.  While technological advancements have been made and are being made that will increase capacities that energy can be produced during peak times when the sun and wind are present, at the current point in time these are not adequate and neither are the present energy storage capabilities.

The second issue with regard to production is the overall costs associated with each energy production method.  While there is no cost associated with the fuel itself in green energy production, the costs associated with the process total a higher amount than fossil fuel production methods do. This is because of the high tech equipment that must be utilized in the control and production processes of green technologies, and a single flaw that represents a large portion of the cost. This issue is in regards to electrical overload due to power surges and the destruction of equipment in the field as a result.  In order for most green energy systems to produce electricity, they need components that are specific to their process and which are expensive. These highly sensitive and computerized components are housed within the structures and systems themselves, and as a result are threatened by weather and other events that can damage them, causing the need for repair or replacement.  In the green energy space, the components involved in the process are generally situated in remote and unobstructed areas, essentially making them the tallest or only structures in the general vicinity.  This makes them natural attractants for lightning strikes, which produce damage at a strike point as well as a huge electrical surge that has the ability to destroy nearly any electronic component it comes into contact with. The systems necessitate the communication between components housed inside these systems, as well as their powering through interconnected electrical cables.  This presents an unobstructed pathway for electrical surges to travel upon, moving from connected component to component and overwhelming the circuitry of each one. This can cause the complete destruction of a computerized component huge distances away from the strike point itself, and produce massive amounts of damage on a regular basis. Lightning strikes to these types of systems are common, and as a result produce a large amount of destruction every year that needs to be addressed in order to restore functionality.  The systems are also knocked offline and therefore do not produce until that restoration is completed.

Developments and advancements that improve green energy systems, reduce on-going costs and increase production levels are simple yet technologically advanced.  Surge protection devices that are specifically designed to operate in industrial settings and in the field are being manufactured by Raycap, and improved upon every year in order to increase their effectiveness.  Through the simple improvement of the methods of isolation of damage that is inevitable, costs are being driven down within these vulnerable industries and a situation is being created where the cost to the consumer will soon be the same no matter which method is used.  Raycap’s surge protection devices also feature a unique ability to stay functional and activated even after a surge incident, which usually destroys or damages lesser robust devices.  This enables minimization of system restoration times and therefore can increase production levels when the fuels are available.  Through these simple advancements within an industry that is seemingly unrelated, the viability of green energy as a global production method for electricity is coming to fruition. We all realize that green energy is the future, but few realized that surge protection would play a major role bringing it into broad public use.