Denmark-based Wind Power LAB (WPL) has launched a lightning surveillance tool tailored to combat strike damages to wind farms through early detection of potential risk.

Lightning strikes and the subsequent damages pose major risks for wind farm operations. According to data cited by WPL, lightning strikes account for more than 60% of meteorological accidents at wind farms. There could be an even greater risk of lightning damage for modern blades with increased carbon re-enforcement.

According to a press statement released by WPL, the new Lightning Analysis Service, called LASSIE, which is cloud-based and non-intrusive with no turbine installation, can prioritise intervention for turbines in high-risk areas for lightning strikes. Anders Røpke, WPL’s chief executive officer and founder, said: “Damage is often only found during yearly inspections, which can lead to more costly repairs due to delayed reaction. Damage can also propagate over many months before being acknowledged.

“Understanding exactly which turbines to inspect, when and how, is key. WPL’s experts have created an automatic rules-based notice system and dashboard that pairs lightning and blade knowledge for actionable insights. Market-leading remote sensing data drives the system, which is backed by WPL’s intelligence and development, helping to pinpoint which turbines to inspect for damage.”

LASSIE features a proprietary algorithm that combines multiple data points from weather reporting systems, incorporating International Electrotechnical Commission standards for electrotechnology compliance.

In a recent trial conducted over an eight-month period, LASSIE recorded 98% lightning strike activity across a singular wind farm and found that a 50% baseline of blade damages were caused by lightning, ice throw and high wind gusts.

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LASSIE also offers major cost savings of 40% as repairs are identified earlier than expected through its monitoring tool. “In one client trial of LASSIE, the yearly cost savings were estimated to be $2.7m from avoided damage progression,” Røpke said. “This underlines how the tool can support wind turbine owners and asset managers in developing the prudent operator mindset required to ensure efficient repairs, quick responses and avoid lost production days.”