Wind power turbines need to be appropriately protected against lightning and power surges that could cause untold damage to these structures. South Africans, by and large, think of renewable energy in terms of solar power only. There is a definite increase in businesses and homes installing solar panels for them to become independent from the grid.
Fewer South Africans view wind power as a renewable option. The production of electricity from wind turbines is more common and widely spread than we realise and is as widely used as solar power.
Suffice to say, wind energy is fast becoming an important part of the renewable energy landscape; therefore, the protection of these wind turbines from power surges and lightning has become increasingly important.
According to statistics, coal is still used for energy in many sectors, but according to the CSIR, the cost of using wind for renewable energy is 40 % cheaper than using coal.
South Africa enjoy many days of sunshine for solar energy options, but South Africa has huge areas that are windy such as the Western Cape and Eastern Cape as well as some areas in the interior of the country.
The average period of time that it takes to erect wind farms is about 1.9 years which enables wind farms to be connected to the grid in a relatively short time.
In the long term, it seems as though wind power will start taking precedence over other renewable energy sources and that wind turbines will require greater protection against electrical power surges and lightning strikes.
Onshore Wind Turbines therefore require:
- Earth protection which will connect the electrical equipment to the ground safely which should then protect property and individuals from any electrical faults
- Lightning protection earthing which will protect the equipment from lightning strikes and conduct lightning currents from the down conductors to the earth
- Earthing that functions securely and competently ensuring the electrical and electronic equipment operates in a safe and efficient manner
Wind farms are making huge inroads in relieving the power from the grid in many areas – more so than many of us realise.