Lightning Effects on Wind Turbines

Lightning Effects on Wind Turbines

Wind turbines have quickly grown into one of the largest sectors in all of alternative energy. Wind farms are popping up all over the world, many of which are producing many mega-watts of power output.

Lightning over a wind farm

Without adequate protection, lightning can severely damage wind turbines. Simply repairing and retrofitting a damaged wind turbine doesn’t prevent future issues from occurring. Reliability is a substantial differentiator in the wind turbine market.

Lightning Damage to Wind Turbines

Many of the taller and larger power generating wind turbines are located in remote areas that are difficult to access. These present significant operating condition advantages but present maintenance and repair challenges that are costly and expensive.

Remote Wind Turbine

As a result, understanding the performance of a wind turbine in the presence of lightning is paramount. Unlike aerospace and other test-heavy industries, the testing of wind turbines is extremely difficult. The size and impedance of wind turbines presents huge logistical challenges for both test coordination and generator setup standpoints. In order to test a wind turbine blade, it needs to be physically transported to the test facility!

Testing and Manufacturing of Wind Turbine Blades

EMA has employed the use of simulation and analysis across myriad projects to help overcome this.

Complex Wind Turbine Simulation

With the use of 3D simulation, EMA is able to accurately predict lightning attachment probabilities, current and electric field distrbutions, arcing/flashover risks, and a number of other highly valuable studies. These models can be used to optimize lightning protection, perform failure analyses for blades struck in the field, or as an integral part in design tradeoffs. EMA’s models have been validated by a number of thorough test campaigns.

Internal Electric Fields Prior to Lightning Attachment

EMA has experience and expertise in the following areas:

  • 3D Lightning Attachment Simulations (IEC 61400-24)
  • 3D Simulations of Lightning Protection Designs
  • Arcing/Flashover Risk Assessments
  • Damage and Root Cause Analysis
  • Geographical Lightning Probabilities
  • 3D Simulation of High Voltage Effects
  • Repair and Retrofit Analyses
  • Site Inspections

Contact EMA today to learn how we can help protect your wind farm or wind turbine design from the effects of lightning. Wind turbines that aren’t spinning don’t generate power (or money)!