As part of our ongoing exploration of alternative energy sources, we’re happy to report this “shocking” new source- lightning! Through an innovative and efficient partnership with nature’s more ethereal forces, lightning generation and harvesting is currently gaining momentum and proving to be a viable and renewable way to create energy. While there are numerous initiatives making progress of the green power frontier, this one is certainly worth ‘getting charged up about.’

Illinois-based inventor Steve Le Roy has developed a device that intentionally generates lightning in order to harvest energy from the electrical discharge produced. As mentioned in this month’s Business Week’s Green Tech forum, Le Roy took his cues from a coiled transformer created by Nikola Tesla at the turn of the century.

Each small three-foot bolt generates enough electricity to illuminate a 60-watt light bulb for 20 minutes. But a full-scale system, LeRoy believes, could power 30,000 homes for a day with just one lightning bolt. Given that the average Midwest thunderstorm releases enough electrical energy to power the entire U.S. for 20 minutes, who knows what the potential is for the harvesting of lightning fields and arrays of bolt conductors.

(Worth noting: The environmental installation artist Walter De Maria’s Lightening Field in rural New Mexico may also have been a precursor to Le Roy’s invention as a reminder to onlookers that nature often generates the best art and display of awe-inspiring energy.)

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