Why Wind Turbines Need Protection
The future of power production is green technology, not only because it is cleaner and will not have the negative impacts on the environment that fossil fuel methods do, but also because it can be less expensive. When discussing the costs of power production that can be consumed by the masses, we must look at the factors and elements that comprise that cost. With regard to fossil fuel methods, one of the primary costs associated with the process is the purchase or mining of fossil fuels which can be burned in order to move turbines. The movement of the turbines is the way that static electricity is produced and harnessed for processing and then use by the public. People have been using wind to move the blades of windmills for centuries, achieving their desired task. For the most part, this movement was used to push or pull, or potentially grind things. As of the last 100 years, people have started to figure out that this same movement can be used to generate static electricity using turbines. This means that the actual fuel source that is used is not one that costs money. Instead, it is free and the main cost basis is found in the care and maintenance of the equipment used in the process. Unfortunately, the positioning of this equipment puts it at constant risk of damage, much of which is caused by lightning storms.
At any one point, there are nearly 1700 storms happening on the earth that can produce lightning. There are roughly 100 flashes of lightning every second on earth, each one capable of traveling to the ground and striking the most opportune target. Unfortunately, wind towers being the tallest structures in a region make them a primary target, causing strikes to the tower tops of blades to be common. Because of the damage to the blades, the wind towers become less efficient as they can capture less of the wind that is present. The lightning strike also causes a power surge that flows along conductive materials through the structure, generally damaging the equipment housed inside. This not only creates expense as far as repair, but takes the systems offline even though the wind is still present and able to generate power. Because of this inefficiency and other factors, as well as equipment cost, wind power has not yet been able to fully replace fossil fuel production methods.
Through the development of better and more resilient materials with which to construct the blades, and the integration of better ways to protect the sensitive electronics such as industrial surge protection devices inside the structures, the costs of operation can be greatly reduced while the outputs of each tower can be increased. Surge protection devices and systems are important to a future of more green energy power production, because their effective use can so dramatically reduce repair and replacement costs. By avoiding the damage in the first place, more power can be produced at lower costs. This is beneficial to both the environment and the consumer.