The EC project aims to develop a general method of protection from lightning strikes. The size and hub height of turbines is increasing, making them potentially more vulnerable, and there are fears that the cost of lightning damage will rise unless something is done. Frequent lightning strikes could also threaten public confidence in wind energy.
The project will examine the effects of lightning on blades, both wood composite and glass-reinforced plastic, as well as on bearings. The effectiveness of various protection measures will be assessed. Computer analysis will be used to investigate the voltages induced by lightning in the control circuits and other systems. The application to wind turbines of the techniques used to protect aircraft and sensitive terrestrial installations from the effects of lightning will also be investigated.
The project is led by the University of Manchester Institute for Science and Technology (UMIST) and the team consists of UK blade manufacturers Taywood Aerolaminates of Southampton, German wind turbine manufacturer Tacke WindTechnik GmbH, the UK's AEA Lightning Test & Technology, and the University of Athens in Greece. The facilities of the project partners include a high current lightning test facility capable of developing 200 kA and a high voltage laboratory able to test up to 2 MV. The results of the research will be documented in the form of a designer's guide which will be made available to European Industry.