Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Wind turbine movement can generate lightning

Date:
April 23, 2014
Source:
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)
Summary:
Under favorable atmospheric conditions any elevated structure can generate upward lightning flashes. Even aircraft can do so —- in fact, height and movement are two of the factors that contribute to this phenomenon. The tips of wind turbine blades move at speeds of several tens of meters per second. However, no one had previously demonstrated the relationship between this movement and the triggering of electrical discharges.

Lightning on the Rubió wind farm.
Credit: Image courtesy of Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC)

Under favourable atmospheric conditions any elevated structure can generate upward lightning flashes. Even aircraft can do so -- in fact, height and movement are two of the factors that contribute to this phenomenon. The tips of wind turbine blades move at speeds of several tens of metres per second. However, no one had previously demonstrated the relationship between this movement and the triggering of electrical discharges.

Through its lightning mapping array located in the Terres de l'Ebre region of Tarragona, the UPC's Lightning, Atmospheric Electricity and High Voltage Research Group (LRG) has detected electrical discharges from wind turbines that are repeated periodically. The duration of these discharges ranges from a few minutes to over an hour, depending on the storm conditions.

Researchers have made high-speed video recordings of lightning flashes caused by wind turbines on the Rubió wind farm. The LRG, which is a European benchmark in lightning studies, has recorded several upward lightning flashes caused by rotating wind turbines under clouds. These recordings were made at a distance of one kilometre from the wind turbine, with the camera set at a speed of 6668 frames per second and a resolution time of 150 microseconds.

Preventing breakdowns and improving understanding of the phenomenon

The LRG's work will be very useful because it will help describe the phenomenon and establish prevention systems. Though it occurs on a daily basis, lightning is still one of the least known atmospheric phenomena. The study of lightning generated by the wind turbine blades and its relationship with the frequency of rotation will help characterise and define flashes, and above all prevent them. It will also reduce costs for turbine manufacturing companies and wind energy generation companies, which lose millions of euros every year in damage caused by lightning.

Wind turbine blades are currently over 60 metres long and the nacelle can be located over 100 metres from the ground. The blades are made of composite materials that are very sensitive to the effects of electric discharges and lightning.

Depending on the region in which the farm is located, the damage can be severe. On the west coast of Japan, for example, winter lightning is far more harmful than summer lightning. In fact, some wind farms have been forced to close because of storm damage.

The LRG is the only group in Europe studying lightning scientifically and systematically. They have set up observatories in the Pyrenees, the Ebro Delta and the island of San Andrés in the Colombian Caribbean. Their expertise has led them to participate in the European Space Agency's Atmosphere-Space Interactions Monitor (ASIM) project, which will give them access to new knowledge and allow them to advance in this area of science. In this project, they will study terrestrial gamma-ray bursts, high-energy ray emissions and unusual high-altitude phenomena associated with lightning: giant jets of electrical discharge and sprites, which occur in the stratosphere and mesosphere above thunderstorms.

In the ASIM project, the LRG has received the support of the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness in recent years. The group's state-of-the-art equipment includes three high-speed cameras that capture 500,000 images per second; interferometers for studying what happens inside clouds; and the Lightning Network Mapping Array, which can characterise the evolution of lightning in three dimensions.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). "Wind turbine movement can generate lightning." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 23 April 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423094749.htm>.
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). (2014, April 23). Wind turbine movement can generate lightning. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 26, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423094749.htm
Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya (UPC). "Wind turbine movement can generate lightning." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/04/140423094749.htm (accessed July 26, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

Virginia Governor Tours Tornado Aftermath

AP (July 25, 2014) — Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe toured the Cherrystone Family Camping and RV Resort on the Chesapeake Bay today, a day after it was hit by a tornado. The storm claimed two lives and injured dozens of others. (July 25) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

Europe's Highest Train Turns 80 in French Pyrenees

AFP (July 25, 2014) — Europe's highest train, the little train of Artouste in the French Pyrenees, celebrates its 80th birthday. Duration: 01:05 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Goma Cheese Brings Whiff of New Hope to DRC

Reuters - Business Video Online (July 24, 2014) — The eastern region of the Democratic Republic of Congo, mainly known for conflict and instability, is an unlikely place for the production of fine cheese. But a farm in the village of Masisi, in North Kivu is slowly transforming perceptions of the area. Known simply as Goma cheese, the Congolese version of Dutch gouda has gained popularity through out the region. Ciara Sutton reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

Bill Gates: Health, Agriculture Key to Africa's Development

AFP (July 24, 2014) — Health and agriculture development are key if African countries are to overcome poverty and grow, US software billionaire Bill Gates said Thursday, as he received an honourary degree in Ethiopia. Duration: 00:36 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
 
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:  

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:  

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins