Conference programme

Back to the programme printer.gif Print




Delegates are invited to meet and discuss with the poster presenters during the poster presentation sessions between 10:30-11:30 and 16:00-17:00 on Thursday, 19 November 2015.

Lead Session Chair:
Stephan Barth, ForWind - Center for Wind Energy Research, Germany
Alain Fremaux Schneider Electric, United States
Co-authors:
Don Leick (1) F
(1) Schneider Electric, Burnsville, United States

Share this poster on:

Printer friendly version: printer.gif Print


Poster

Poster Download poster (14.61 MB)

Abstract

Protocols for Protecting Technicians from Lightning Danger

Introduction

Up-tower is a particularly dangerous place to be when a thunderstorm approaches. Turbines are more prone to lightning strikes and it takes significant time to get down tower to the safety of a vehicle. Lightning safety is a significant concern in most of Europe and the world. Practical,proven tools and protocols exist to greatly reduce the risk of death or injury.

Approach

Several commercial lightning networks in Europe detect lightning. This real time lightning data can be used to alert technicians to the developing danger. This alerting can be given early enough to enable technicians to wrap up work and get down tower to safety. Alerts can also be automatically communicated when it is safe to resume activity. Appropriate organization-wide safety protocols need to be implemented using these tools. Such an approach can significantly reduce lightning danger without unduly keeping technicians from their work.

The misguided approach of listening for thunder is very dangerous, especially inside a nacelle with turbine and blade noise, and considering the time required to get to safety; it does not come close to providing enough evacuation time for safety.


Main body of abstract

While lightning is less of an issue in the UK and North Sea it is a significant issue in most of Europe. Lightning frequency is even higher in the US, China, Brazil and many other high growth regions for wind energy. Due to the height of wind turbines and typically being in exposed areas, along with the time to get down ladders to safety, it is a particularly dangerous situation for technicians. Many O&M organizations have developed quite refined protocols for reducing lightning danger.

Protocols involve both effective tools and organizational best practices.

The tools require lightning detection and the ability to directly and quickly communicate to the technician. Several commercial lightning networks in Europe detect lightning. This real time lightning data can be used to alert technicians (at a fixed location or GPS smartphone location) to the developing danger. This alerting can be given early enough to enable technicians to wrap up work (such as closing nacelle hatches) and getting down tower to safety.

Typically alerts are set up at a caution distance (don’t start new work) and warning distance (stop work and evacuate). Alerts are automatically sent directly to technicians phones. “All clear” alerts can also be automatically communicated when it is safe to resume activity.

Appropriate organization-wide safety protocols need to be established using these tools. No subjectivity or interpretations by technicians should be involved in communication of the risk. Actions to take need to be clearly understood and followed. Education and enforcement are important. Such an approach can significantly reduce lightning danger without unduly keeping technicians from their work


Conclusion

Lightning is a significant safety issue for wind farm technicians, and it must be taken seriously. Effective safety requires effective methods for detecting lightning and alerting crews, while clear organizational protocols for employees to follow are also important. Appropriate tools and practices can ensure employee safety while maintaining operational efficiencies.


Learning objectives
Participants will learn:
• Why up tower is a particularly dangerous place in a thunderstorm
• Tools for detecting lightning and communicating the danger
• Organizational best practices for wind farm O&M lightning safety
• How to minimize lost work time while not jeopardizing technicians