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We’ve all seen lightning outside.
But when you see it from four metres,
it’s a completely different experience.
We would test sometimes for million of volts of lightning
and you would see a good four-metre lightning bolt.
That’s very impressive.
There’s not a lot of places within the world
that can actually do this kind of thing
and I think
this is going to be quite a revelation in terms of where we’re coming from.
The Lightning Lab
My name is Dr. Vidyadhar Peesapati.
I work here at The High Voltage Lab at
the University of Manchester.
It’s the UK’s the largest voltage lab for any university
and we are able to test anything that goes
on to the electrical grid here.
Most of the time we’re testingelectrical equipment that’s either
been on the network or might go on the network.
To understand how equipment ages,
we try to mimic the conditions that you see outside.
That could be rain, that could be wind,
that could be long-term ageing.
The large pylons you see on the highway
are around 400,000 volts.
Now within this lab we can actually mimic those voltages.
Sometimes we’ll push it a bit further aswell.
We might hit it with lightning a couple
of times and we will try to see if we can
predict failure before it happens.
If failure happens you’ve got a blackout.
The last thing you want is a blackout in a big city.
You have hospitals, houses, industry being connected.
So it’s actually vital to be able to monitor these even before they happen.
Now you don’t want to be inside
even when there’s a lightning bolt,
because the last thing you want
to do is touch something that’s at
high voltage, which could be fatal.
It’s better for us to stay in this control room.
Engineers of today will be deciding the network
in the next 50, 60 years.
I see the future network as an electrical household,
is what I’d like to call it.
We’d all having renewables connected to our houses
so we could have a solar panel, we could have a
wind turbine. All of us could become a generating station
in the future if you
think you have an electrical car and you’re plugging it
onto the network on a day
when you don’t use it,
you might be able to actually give that energy to the network.
Fossil fuels are being cut down, rightly so.
We have to find better ways
of generating power.
We have to find better ways of using power, which is key.
The questions are immense and this lab will still fit into that big question.
It’s vital that we understand,
each and every one of us, in our households
how we use electricity and how it is going toimpact our future.