Renewable Energy Surge Protection
“Renewable energy” is a term that is used to describe the production of electricity using a fuel source that does not have to be burned or mined in order to generate power. Typical and traditional production methods involve the burning of a fuel source like coal, wood or oil in order to turn turbines which therefore generate electricity for public use. Renewable energy production works much the same way, but the difference is that the “fuel source” is a natural element that does not have to be destroyed in order to provide the movement to the turbine blades. Converting this energy into electricity is accomplished in different ways based upon the type of “renewable energy” that is being harnessed. For example, in the case of wind power, large blades affixed to turbines are moved by the flowing wind, creating no residual product like smoke or pollution. The wind moves over the blades of the wind turbine and creates movement due to their shape and position. In the case of solar production, sunlight is collected on panels and is used to heat liquid trapped within a pipe system. This liquid expands and pushes through the system including across turbines, thus moving them to generate power. Once again there is no residual product produced using this system. Hydro-electric power is generated in much the same method as wind, only using flowing water to turn the turbines. While the actual methods of production vary, the methods are referred to under the umbrella of “renewable energy” as the fuel sources do not run out, and are not destroyed by the process.
With regard to renewable energy, the discussion is about driving production costs down. While the fuel sources are free and readily available, the processes themselves have certain costs that could be reduced through technological advancement. The major cost associated with the production processes of renewable energy is the purchase and then replacement or repair of technologically advanced equipment that is damaged in the process of gathering the energy. These damages are generally seen as weather related, with typical erosion to systems as a result of ongoing inclement weather patterns, as well as more acute damaging instances like heavy rain and wind storms accompanied by lightning strikes. Damage as a result of ongoing weather can be reduced by using more robust equipment enclosures, but damage as a result of lightning strikes and their accompanying surges can only be prevented through the installation of industrial grade surge protection devices (SPDs). Damage at the strike point itself is difficult to control, but the intense after-surge in electricity that follows a lightning strike is usually responsible for far greater costs than the strike itself. This is due to the lightning surge overloading circuitry in control equipment and resulting in complete failure or a generalized degradation of system components. Each time these systems are damaged or interrupted by a power surge, costs are accumulated increasing pricing pressure on the end product that is sold to consumers. Through adequate prevention of the damages that are typically seen after a strike and associated surge, the overall production costs of renewable energy can drop significantly, resulting in both cleaner and less expensive electricity.