Raycap News

Wind Turbines Must Be Protected From Lightning

Wind farm operators will often worry about their inability to secure adequate insurance coverage.  This is because when insurance companies, after assessing risk factors involved in the daily operation of a wind power generating facility, realize that the risks associated with lightning strike are far greater than what they typically underwrite.  Essentially, the risk of equipment damage exposed to harsh weather may be within the guidelines of what is acceptable, but the unique makeup of wind farm structures adds an additional damage rider to policies that increases the costs and potentially makes the farm impossible to insure by the owner.

Wind towers are typically the tallest structures within an area, and are unobstructed in order to provide adequate wind flow to turn the turbines.  These towers additionally involve blades that stretch even further into the sky, making them prime targets for lighting strikes during thunder storms.  While this typically would be no problem and acceptable for coverage by a typical insurance policy, the added risks associated with expensive and sensitive equipment involved in the process being directly attached to the very structures that attract the lightning proved to be too much.  Because lighting strikes also produce a power surge capable of causing severe damage to attached equipment anywhere in the turbine, the typical strike to a wind turbine produced more expensive damage than expected, causing insurance companies to see no option but to refuse coverage in several instances.  The inability to secure adequate coverage can prove too risky for many wind farms to continue operations, forcing them to close.

Prevention of the damage associated with lightning surges provides an answer. By minimizing the actual amounts that would need to be paid by insurance companies after a strike incident, operators have found ways to have their wind farms insured.  Through the integration of advanced surge protection devices (SPD) within the wind turbine structures and at strategic points in the power chain, a lighting strike to the structure which may produce unavoidable damage to the blades and structure itself, is isolated for the most part to physical types of damage.  The advanced SPDs prevent the surge from making contact with the control equipment by cutting the flow lines before it can make contact.  The protection of the expensive equipment put the damage assessments back within coverage range, and policies were able to be issued again.

The new generation of SPDs for wind turbines also feature the ability to withstand a lighting surge without being destroyed in the process.  This technology provides the ability to withstand multiple strikes to the same structure without loss of protection, and also supports a faster restoration to wind farm functionality.  Uptime is crucial for wind farms in order to maximize times when winds are available, so the integration of these new generation SPDs is effective not only as damage prevention, but for maximization of the potential within every turbine.  Contact Raycap today for more information about its advanced Strikesorb surge protection for wind farm operations.