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 October 1, 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 October 1, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

Raw: 12 More Bodies Found on Japan Volcano

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A dozen more bodies were found Wednesday as Japanese rescuers resumed efforts to find survivors and retrieve bodies of those trapped by Mount Ontake's eruption. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Cultural Learning In Wild Chimps Observed For The First Time

Newsy (Oct. 1, 2014) — Cultural transmission — the passing of knowledge from one animal to another — has been caught on camera with chimps teaching other chimps. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

Raw: Trapped Scientist Rescued from Cave in Peru

AP (Oct. 1, 2014) — A Spanish scientist, who spent 12 days trapped about 1300 feet underground in a cave in Peru's remote Amazon region, was rescued on Tuesday. (Oct. 1) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Earth Has Lost Half Its Vertebrate Wildlife Since 1970: WWF

Newsy (Sep. 30, 2014) — A new study published by the World Wide Fund for Nature found that more than half of the world's wildlife population has declined since 1970. Video provided by Newsy
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:

Strange & Offbeat Stories

 

Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

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