Thunder and lightning can be both a beautiful and frightening spectacle, I was frightened to death as a child – but how much energy does lightning generate?
Well, an average bolt of lightning, striking from cloud to ground, comprises of roughly one billion (1,000,000,000) joules of energy – Now that is a lot of power! Additionally, each year, over one and a half billion lightning flashes are released into our atmosphere, so you can imagine just how much energy is created by this source.
Can lightning be used to power business?
Unfortunately, the technology that can convert this amount of energy into usable power doesn’t exist yet. An outstandingly large battery that would be able to cope with such a powerful and speedy influx of raw electricity would be required. The battery would then have to retain this power and be able to gradually release the stored power when it’s needed.
Current technology just isn’t able to sustain this yet. Some inventors have tried to make progress in this area, however, the devices already developed with this capability are either incredibly problematic to produce or are inefficient.
As well as this, we are not yet able to store and retrieve any energy that we are able to capture because of simple physics. A lot of energy is lost in the conversion process.
Combined, the restricted total energy that we can secure and the effort and loss in accessing it, means that we would only generate a tiny fraction of the power that we use every day from atmospheric lightning. This means that lightening isn’t, at this moment in time, a realistic solution to our energy demands.
But who knows how long we will need to wait.