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External lightning protection system for wind turbine blades - aerodynamics.

Ayub, A. S.; Siew, W.H.; Stickland, M.


A. S. Ayub

W.H. Siew

M. Stickland


Many wind turbine blade manufacturers have installed lightning protection systems (particularly the down conductor) internally. Having the down conductor internally within the blades would indeed preserve their aerodynamic performance. However, the blades are, as a consequence, vulnerable to damage and burn resulting from lightning strikes. Owing to this, the authors believe that by having the down conductor on the external surface of the blade, the incidence of blade damage would be reduced. The authors have not found any literature in the public domain that quantifies the effect of having an external down conductor on the aerodynamic performance. Hence, in this paper, a study of the effects of an externally mounted lightning conductor has been undertaken. Simulation studies were carried out using the computational fluid dynamics numerical method available in the COMSOL Multiphysics software package. The results of studies on single conductor arrangement have shown that the degradation on aerodynamic performance is least at the trailing edges of the blade. However, it may not be adequate for lightning protection. Therefore, using a similar numerical modelling methodology, simulations were extended and investigated on multiple conductor arrangements where conductors? locations were varied on an aerofoil surfaces. The results of the aerodynamic modelling suggested that a four conductor arrangement may be the best option as it gives more coverage for lightning protection of the wind turbine blades while still having the least reduction (of around 25%) on lift to drag ratio.


AYUB, A.S., SIEW, W.H. and STICKLAND, M. 2017. External lighting protection system for wind turbine blades - aerodynamics. CIGRE science and engineering [online], 9, pages 55-62. Available from:

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 1, 2017
Online Publication Date Oct 24, 2017
Publication Date Oct 31, 2017
Deposit Date Feb 13, 2020
Publicly Available Date Feb 13, 2020
Journal CIGRE science and engineering
Electronic ISSN 2426-1335
Publisher CIGRE
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 9
Pages 55-62
Keywords Aerodynamic performance; Computational fluid dynamics; K-ε turbulence model; Lightning down conductor; Wind turbine blades; Lightning protection system
Public URL
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