Lightning to electricity
- Jul 21, 2022 10:55 am GMT
A recent pop-science outlet podcast suggested that the world could be powered purely by lightning, and each building could capture enough energy from lightning to provide all the power you need.
Reality check –
Yes, there is 1 million joules in a lightning bolt or about ¼ of a kilowatt-hour.
Yes, there are 40 million lightning strikes per year in the US.
Yes, approximately 1 in 5 lightning bolts actually turn into strikes.
Given these numbers – the total energy in lightning in the US is about 55 gigawatt-hours.
The US uses over 4 million gigawatt hours.
So can lightning really power the US economy?
Please look at the physics and math behind the claims before you repeat them!
Two other current memes that are running around:
1. We can beam power wirelessly to everyone, no transmission, no distribution systems required.
2. We can speed up electricity [change from 60 Hz to 6,000 Hz] and move 1,000 times the electricity across the existing grid.
The initial articles are both ideas have been roundly dismissed (with math and physics) but the pop-science people are reposting these ideas in less technical forums and gaining followers who what to believe this is true.
"True believers always win over physics, because they don't have to prove anything to the masses."
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