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Q: Lightning as energy ( Answered,   1 Comment )
Subject: Lightning as energy
Category: Science > Technology
Asked by: ender_x-ga
List Price: $2.00
Posted: 15 Sep 2006 14:28 PDT
Expires: 15 Oct 2006 14:28 PDT
Question ID: 765667
Why is lightning not ever used as a source of energy?
Subject: Re: Lightning as energy
Answered By: answerfinder-ga on 16 Sep 2006 04:54 PDT
Dear ender_x-ga,

There are experiments in this area, but there are many practical
problems which need to be overcome. This what NASA has to say on your

"Q. Can lightning be harnessed as a source of power?
A. People have considered harnessing lightning for electrical power,
but no serious attempts are currently under way, nor are any planned.
It is impractical for numerous reasons, as listed below.

1. Most of the power in lightning is dissipated as thunder and light,
which cannot be easily harnessed to generate electric power.
2. However, even just the electrical current of lightning is
considerable -- 20,000 amps on average, the same as 100 steel welders.
But the power is on for only a brief fraction of a second, so the
total power is actually small, only enough to power a 100-watt light
bulb for six months.
3. The huge surge of electrical current over very brief times makes
storing the energy impractical.
4. Lightning strikes to specific locations are infrequent and
inconsistent. This makes scheduling power availability impractical.
5. Lightning can be very damaging. The collection systems have to be
incredibly robust, which would drive up costs. Lightning is also very
dangerous, making it tough on the collection system workers.
6. Lightning would have to be collected over a huge area, making the
system impractically expensive.

So as you can see for several scientific, engineering, economic and
legal problems, harnessing lightning for electric power is not

Singapore Science Centre gives a similar reply.

"FS: Can we make use of lightning in terms of power?
EW: If lightning occurred in one place in a predictable manner day in
and day out, the harnessing of its energy might be seriously
considered. Such is not the case. Lightning does strike twice in the
same place, but extremely infrequently. To harness the energy, the
lightning must strike an electrode connected to a very robust bank of
electrical capacitors. One captured strike would deliver at most 10^8
joules. This would provide enough energy to power one electric
hairdryer for about ten hours. So clearly, a large number of captured
flashes would be needed to supply the energy needs of just a single

I hope this answers your question. If it does not, or the answer is
unclear, then please ask for clarification of this research before
rating the answer. I shall respond to the clarification request as
soon as I receive it.
Thank you

Search strategy

lightning harnessing
lightning power harness
Subject: Re: Lightning as energy
From: pinkfreud-ga on 15 Sep 2006 14:36 PDT
This might be of interest:

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