One of the lesser known facts about the alternative energy sector is that there is a tremendous amount of computer-operated aspects of the facilities. Even though the actual harnessing of the fuel source (wind or sun) involves more mechanical elements like wind turbines and solar panels which heat water, the actual running of the facilities and the processing of the energy produced is done largely through the use of computers and data processing equipment. This equipment is at serious risk with regards to power surges, especially those created by lightning strikes.
One of the largest expenditures of money with regards to the creation of alternative energy is the upkeep and replacement or repair of technological equipment that is within the industrial installation. This is due to the loss of that equipment due to failure or the resetting and repair of that equipment through damage.
Alternative energy facilities are generally remote and consist of the largest and tallest structures in an area, making them magnets for lightning. The strikes to components will generally be to the blades of wind turbines or to the actual panels in the field of solar farms, but the surge that is produced by the strike creates damage to circuitry and components which are connected to these blades and panels through power lines. The surge will travel up the lines and destroy anything it reaches through overloads.
In a typical situation, surge protection equipment is outfitted to these lines, thus preventing a portion of the surge from reaching the sensitive equipment that is attached. In the past, surge protection devices were semi-industrial, and provided a level of protection no greater than a typical home installation. Now, through upgraded surge protection equipment that boasts better housings and components, the protection abilities are far improved and can prevent nearly all damage. In specific cases of products manufactured by some of the best companies, the need to reset the device after activation is no longer necessary, allowing the facility to stay online for longer periods of time. This enables producers to have access to the free fuel sources of sun and wind for longer periods of time, thus creating more free power when able to. These advancements are creating a situation where alternative energy is dropping in price to produce, and bringing it more in line with fossil fuel production. Through these advances, green energy can take its place as the cheapest and cleanest form of power available.