The History of the International Conference on Lightning Protection

Research on contemporary lightning protection started at the beginning of last century leading to European standards: BS (now BS 6651) in Great Britain, ABB (now VDE 00185) in Germany, OVE in Austria, SEV in Switzerland, CEI in Italy, PN in Poland and NFPA and AIEEE in the United States of America.

Further developments of lightning protection systems were performed in two directions: one referring to power installations and the other relative to all other structures.

In 1921 the first International Conference on Great Electrical Grids (CIGRE) became the main forum for exchanging opinions on power lines protection and stations topics. Common international contributions on the protection of structures, other than power one, were developed much slower. The turning-point for the international cooperation was the year 1951 – thirty years after the first CIGRE event when an International Conference on Lightning Protection was promoted by a group of scientists from Austria (Prof. V. Fritsch and Mr W. Kostelecki), Germany (Prof. H.F. Schwenkhagen and Mr. P. Schnell) and Switzerland (Prof. K. Berger). During the meeting held in Bad Reichenhall Germany (1951), the promoters decided to regularly organise international meetings on lightning events and lightning protection of structures.

A Steering Committee of the Conference was appointed and later enlarged to representatives from other European countries like E. Kongstad (Denmark), J. Fourestier (France), R.H. Golde (United Kingdom), T.G. Brood and Quintus (The Netherlands), T. Horvath (Hungary), T. Riccio (Italy), J.L. Jakubowski (Poland), G. Dragan (Romania), D. Muller-Hillebrand and S. Lundquist (Sweden) and Z. Krulc (Yugoslavia).

German and French were accepted as the Conference official languages. The Conference was thus named Internationale Blitzschutzkonferenz (German) and Conference Internationale pour Protection Contre la Foudre (French).

As shown in Table 1, three subsequent Conferences took place in Bregenz Austria (1952), in Lugano Switzerland (1953) and in Merano Italy (1956). Some invited representatives progressively attended the meetings, as observers. Some of them joined the Steering Committee. At the fifth meeting in Vienna Austria (1958) seven countries were represented in the Committee. The overall figures (Countries and Delegates) also gradually increased.

For a long time the Conference was held without the support of a formal statute. The membership was free, without any contribution.

During the third conference it was decided that, in principle, the Conference meetings would be periodically organised every two years. From year to year, along with the number of Conference participants, the number of submitted papers also increased.

Conference number Year Place Country Topics Papers Countries Delegates
1 1951 Bad Reichenhall Germany
2 1952 Bregenz Austria
3 1953 Lugano Switzerland
4 1956 Merano Italy
5 1958 Vienna Austria
6 1961 Triest-Opatija Italy-Yugoslavia
7 1963 Arnhem The Netherlands
8 1965 Cracov Poland
9 1967 Lugano Switzerland 5 27 12 150
10 1969 Budapest Hungary 5 45 13 170
11 1971 Munich Germany 5 35 14 160
12 1973 Portoroz Yugoslavia 5 60 14 350
13 1976 Venice Italy 5 51 14 200
14 1978 Gdansk Poland 5 49 17 155
15 1979 Uppsala Sweden 6 40 18 164
16 1981 Seged Hungary 5 40 20 110
17 1983 Haag The Netherlands 5 32 20 152
18 1985 Munich Germany 6 63 22 250
19 1988 Graz Austria 7 74 26 262
20 1990 Interlaken Switzerland 8 85 31 250
21 1992 Berlin Germany 8 118 36 230
22 1994 Budapest Hungary 6(10) 113 39 180
23 1996 Florence Italy 8 133 39 205
24 1998 Birmingham England 10 183 47 233
25 2000 Rhodes Greece 10 145 40 299
26 2002 Krakow Poland 10 163 38 207
27 2004 Avignon France 10 178 41 285
28 2006 Kanazawa Japan 11 293 41 540
29 2008 Uppsala Sweden 10 204 42 306
30 2010 Cagliari Italy 12 157 39 293
31 2012 Vienna Austria 12 235 37 314
32 2014 Shanghai China 15 396 50 562
33 2016 Estoril Portugal 17 239 41 296
34 2018 Rzeszów Poland 16 202 37 272
35 2021 Colombo Sri Lanka 13 150 36 292