Wind Turbine Surge Protection
As global prices of nearly everything are being severely increased by inflation, we find there may be a renewed interest on the public’s part in developing alternative energy solutions. In the past, green energy was viewed as a method of replacing the methods used by power production companies that depleted the earth of fossil fuels. These methods also contribute to pollution, which cannot be denied even by those who do not believe pollution impacts the environment and changes it. While these concepts are certainly true, inflation has shifted the thought process to many to alternatives that are less expensive to produce. While we may only now be entering a time when the efficiency of green energy techniques are coming into line with fossil fuel production methods in terms of the cost to produce, the trajectory of the cost reduction shows promise that these methods can be further developed as a viable energy sources while also experiencing reduced prices. After all, the fuel used is “free,” with the only costs having to do with producing the methods of production, the actual operation, and the maintenance of the systems. The reason alternative energy was more expensive to maintain is the potential for damage in the field to the collection devices as a result of weather, specifically lightning and the resultant power surge. Through new techniques designed to not only create more robust systems that can better withstand weather patterns, but also by installation of industrial surge protection devices that can thwart the subsequent surges, there is a potential for less expensive alternative energy systems.
There are roughly 1700 active electrical storms globally at all times, and this translates to about 100 flashes of lightning per second. Lightning is the enemy of wind power, as it will generally choose the path of least resistance to the earth. A wind power production facility consists of wind towers that are designed to be tall and unobstructed, which allows better flow of the wind across the blades. This also makes those same towers the optimal choice for lightning to strikes as they are often the tallest structures in the area. The lightning will usually strike the blades of the turbine or the tower top, creating damage at that point. The lightning creates a power spike that then follows any conductive material from the strike point toward the earth, overwhelming the sensitive electronic equipment housed within the tower or connected to it by cables. The damage downstream from the strike point can be minimized or even eliminated through the integration of specialized wind turbine surge protection devices which will stop the overvoltage and keep it from the connected equipment. By reducing damage to sensitive circuits as well as the construction of blades from better composite materials, wind energy costs can be driven down significantly. By reducing the repair costs of the actual equipment as well as the labor to restore them to functionality, we will see the uptimes of production increase. This can create a power generation method that is less expensive and more efficient, which is necessary for the world in today’s climate.