Every single second there is a lightning strike somewhere in the world, sometimes up to 100 times a second. Lightning is one of the greatest wonders of electricity, it is so powerful that it can contain up to a billion volts in any single strike. To put that into perspective, a Taser can send a pulse with about 50,000 volts! So where does the lightning come from?
What is lightning?
Lightning is an electrical discharge which is caused by imbalances between clouds or between the ground and the clouds. This imbalance is usually caused by colliding particles of rain, ice, snow or hail inside storm clouds which produce a negative charge at the lower part of the cloud. Objects on the ground become positively charged creating an imbalance between the two. The way that nature corrects this is by passing current between the two charges which is how lightning is formed.
Why can’t we use this electricity to power our homes?
Lightning contains a lot of electricity. Wouldn’t it be great if we could harvest this and use it in our homes? Unfortunately, we cannot use the energy from lightning for a several reasons. One of the reasons is that lightning is unpredictable and we cannot determine where it will strike. However, even if we could determine where lightning would strike we would have to reduce the voltage significantly to be able to use the electricity in our homes.