They’re big. Those huge wind turbines stand tall with their dynamic faces to the wind, challenging the planet to “bring it on.” They reflect highly advanced engineering and are monuments to renewable energy and a valid sustainability strategy.
But we cannot risk lives in the name of sustainability.
When the planet decides to bring it on in the form of lightning, wind turbines are easy targets. In North America, most wind farms are located in lightning-prone areas, and those massive structures, by design, are attractive to lightning – putting the crews that operate and maintain them at serious jeopardy. Renewable energy is not the answer for future power supply if it is risky energy.
Fortunately, we have soft solutions in the background that protect those who man the monuments. Wind farms are adopting advanced technology that identifies lightning strike locations in real-time. Based on user-configured safety zones, the technology alerts the wind farm via centralized computer and individual mobile devices when crews need to evacuate the turbines and immediate area.
To truly be sustainable, our renewable energy efforts must reflect best practices, from asset design and management to the safety of the people who actually operate and maintain those assets. Making highly reliable, real-time lightning location display and communications available not only helps keep crews safe but also helps the wind farm operations center optimize work schedules and improve its cost effectiveness.
It’s the technology that makes renewable power…safe and do-able power.