When nations worldwide attempt to increase their power production capabilities in order to satisfy their growing populations, the discussions of which methodology should be used to produce this power become critical. Utilization of fossil fuel technologies has a proven track record of stability and the ability to satisfy demand. The tradeoff to the rollout of these types of power production methods is pollution and damage to the environment. Additionally, fossil fuel prices can fluctuate dramatically, creating chaos where stability is necessary. The utilization of green technologies to produce the same power eliminates the instability of fossil fuel prices from the discussion. The wind is a free source of fuel which can turn the turbines the same way that the burning of fossil fuels does. Because the fuel source has no cost, the maintenance and upkeep of the systems are the only costs which must be covered by consumers. These production methods also do not produce pollution or release damaging elements to the climate. The drawback to the widespread utilization of wind power is that the systems are more sensitive to damage as a result of inclement weather than fossil fuel systems. In a nutshell, lightning strikes and other environmental factors that can cause damage to the physical structures involved in wind power generation drive costs higher than fossil fuel production methods, at the current time. Through experimentation and utilization of technologically advanced surge protection systems, the opportunity to drive down costs presents itself.
Lightning protection for wind turbines is one of the methods that can help to achieve this goal. The wind towers themselves are generally upwards of 150 meters high and made mostly of metal. The blades and nacelle are the exposed portions that are usually constructed of some form of composite material that is unable to sustain a direct lightning strike without being damaged. In addition these strikes to the blades produce power surges that can travel through the entire structure as well as the entire electrically connected farm system. This means that a single strike to the blade of a wind tower can have a damaging effect throughout the entire system. The components involved are sensitive, and utilize circuitry that cannot withstand major electrical fluctuations. Only through the prevention of damage associated with the surge itself can the costs associated with wind power be brought in line with fossil fuels. This is why the utilization of advanced surge protection devices within the wind towers themselves presents the best opportunity for success. The biggest hindrance currently within surge protection devices is the fact that most of them are rendered inoperable after they intervene in a surge situation. Through the integration of surge protection devices which can remain online and functional after the surge, we see the ability for the systems themselves to keep producing for longer time frames using the free fuel sources that are being provided. The costs associated with repair and maintenance are driven down as well. As the surge protection systems evolve further, we’re seeing that the time in the future when wind power costs less than traditional methods, is closer than we ever thought.