There is one major challenge wind turbines face: lightning. Its massive size makes it vulnerable to vicious lightning strikes during a storm. A new coating for the turbines could provide a solution to the major issue that the industry faces. Developed by a global provider of coating solutions, Mankiewicz, the new coating solution can potentially solve the problem.

A Pricey Problem

Damaged turbine blade
A wind turbine’s blade damaged from a lightning strike; Photo: Arctura

Just by the height alone, wind turbines are bound to get hit by a bolt of lightning and unfortunately, it happens often. Every year, wind turbine operators face this problem and it’s said to cost $100 million annually. Manufacturers also want to make wind turbines bigger but that could result in bigger problems. The cost of damage could increase significantly from $100 million.


Protection from Lightning

Lightning strikes near turbine
Lightning strike captured next to wind turbine; Photo: Arctura

Certain lightning prevention systems are already in place by manufacturers. They include an external lightning protection system and a surge protection system. The external protection system uses receptors to redirect the lightning into the ground thanks to predefined paths. Lightning strikes, even when redirected, cause a sudden increase in electrical charge. This is where the surge protection plan comes in and ensures the turbine is safe from the sudden increase. Unfortunately, these systems can’t provide full safety to the giant turbines. Turbines can still take significant damage from a lightning strike. Increased damage from lightning prompts new, innovative methods to survive tougher conditions.

ArcGuide Coating

ArcGuide is the coating developed by Mankiewicz that works with the protection systems that are already in place. Rather than replacing the protection systems, it is designed to improve them. The polyurethane-based coating is applied to the turbine blade near the lighting receptors. Before lightning strikes, the coating creates a safe path for lightning that goes to the ground instead of puncturing the blade. Because lighting strikes are a recurring problem, the coating’s design allows it to continue to work even if a blade is hit.

Arctura is a wind turbine company bringing the coating to shores in the U.S. Arctura’s CEO Neal Fine said, “This blade coating breakthrough addresses one of the most important pain points felt by wind farm operators.”