Finding a Job in Wind Turbine Services

As a kid, you always loved the trips through scenic rural landscapes, because you knew that somewhere along the route, you’d see them: the “big white fans” as you’d call them to your parents. You had no idea what wind turbines were back then, but you were pretty sure you wanted to work with them when you grew up. And now, as a young adult, you’re wondering, “How do I find a job doing wind turbine services?”

Wind turbines exist in rural areas throughout the United States, and throughout the world. The monstrous machines tower over valleys, deserts and oceans, powering regions with renewable energy that doesn’t rely on oil or other natural resources. They’re majestic machines, but they’re only effective if they’re well maintained. That maintenance is the job of thousands of technicians and specialists charged with making sure these turbines work year after year.

A wind turbine is a tremendous investment for a region and the company who owns them. Built to last decades, every part of them must be monitored and maintained, from the base on the ground, up through the tower all the way to the blades. The mechanical parts not visible to the public are frequently checked by providers of wind turbine services, who have to confirm that the generator is working as efficiently as it is supposed to.

So, really the question is – what part of the maintenance interests you?

Exploring Job Opportunities

If you look at any company providing wind turbine services, you’ll see that many employment opportunities exist and the job titles vary. You may choose to focus on the turbine’s cosmetic look, keeping them appearing clean and new to the public. Or, you might focus on blade management and repair. Tuneups are often necessary to keep the machines running smoothly, while other jobs focus on analyzing the energy creation of turbines and identifying when something isn’t right.

It may take you time to identify the job you want, and you’ll likely have to work at an entry-level position to learn what you’re most interested in doing for your career. If you can, talk to a wind turbine technician who has experience and can tell you what the job is like. Their guidance can help you make sure that this path is right for you. Then maybe, you can be one of the thousands of people who help those “big white fans” keep kids entertained on future drives through the country!

Advertisements

Gas Turbine Services 101

Gas turbines, also called combustion turbines, are driven by the expansion of hot gases produced by a burning fuel. They can be seen in jet engines, trains, ships, electrical generators and more. If you’re a power plant owner or operator, you’re no stranger to the necessity of gas turbine services. It’s essential to perform regular maintenance on your turbine system to ensure the proper functioning, efficiency and safety of your machines.

These gas turbines are powered by pressurized gas that spins the turbine as the fuel is burned. The compressor compresses the incoming air at a high pressure, then the combustion area burns the fuel and converts it into a high-pressure, high-velocity gas where the turbine extracts its energy through the shaft and spins to create energy. Whether the gas turbines in your power plant are in need of adjustments in their internal alignment, bearing repairs, vibration and balance analysis or generator, component or rotor repairs, you need a team of expert technicians available to assist you with planned, and unplanned gas turbine services and repairs.

Gas turbines should be regularly inspected for corrosion and damage. Component refurbishment can increase the lifespan and durability of the working parts of the turbine. This can be accomplished using abrasion to remove grit, then welding or brazing new materials or connections between parts. Heat treatment of the turbine and compressor parts can also help build up strength and durability. Gas turbines are exposed to high temperatures during their operation and properly executed heat treatments can prevent the steel from changing its structure and possibly failing to do its job. Laser welding is also a prominent area in gas turbine services, helping to repair sensitive alloys, high-precision repetitive repairs, and joining metal sheets or fixing a worn turbine blade.

By assessing the internal alignment of the gas turbines, experts can realign all gas turbines to their design conditions. They can also support the replacement and alignment of the compressor discharge casings. In addition, technicians should be able to perform all repairs on gas turbine generators, including field and stator rewinds, with new or existing copper. The air filtration system must also be kept clean, as its contamination can cause damage from overheating or impact the pressure that the compressor is able to achieve. The gas turbine’s filtration system should also be optimized for the surrounding environment, whether marine, desert or otherwise.

Degradation is inevitable, which is why gas turbine services are available to help repair and strengthen your turbine systems. The aerodynamic components, especially, are important to monitor for wear and tear. The engine compressor and gas-generated turbine must operate in an environment that will invariably degrade their performance, and must be given regular maintenance for protection. Corrosion is often responsible for degradation of gas turbines. It can be caused either by contaminants in the inlet air, or in the fuel. Abrasion can also damage the machinery when a rotating surface rubs against a stationary surface. Placing priority on proper repair and maintenance can cut costs on future repairs and keep your gas turbines running longer, and more efficiently.

Wind Farm Maintenance Overview

As the wind farm industry grows and matures, the need for maintenance and experienced technicians rises as well. Wind farms can vary in size, but many have hundreds of wind turbines and cover areas of hundreds of square miles per farm, often with the land in between turbines being utilized for agricultural purposes. Wind farms are often located in more open, remote areas that can be difficult to reach at a moment’s notice. Because of this, regular, planned wind farm maintenance is essential for improving the functioning and efficiency of wind turbines. Each year, wind farm owners want to be more productive and cost-effective than they were previously.

MORE: Wind Farm Interactive Map from OpenEI.org

To meet these goals, owners must find a company to work with them that is reliable, professional and experienced in wind turbine repair and maintenance. This team must be able to access your site quickly, be familiar with all makes and models on your wind farm, and be prepared to make smart decisions while hundreds of feet in the air. A new wind turbine typically is given a year or two of warrantee coverage by the manufacturer to assist with maintenance and unexpected repairs.

Condition monitoring is becoming a regularly utilized service for wind farm maintenance, especially on larger wind plants. This method involves installing sensors throughout the wind turbine machines to keep watch for irregularities and track conditions in individual turbines and their components. Some of the key issues that these sophisticated monitoring systems track are fluid contamination, which may indicate corrosion, and irregular vibration, which could mean that the alignment is off, or another problem exists within the turbine. Condition monitoring helps wind farm owners and operators see minor issues before they became major headaches and cause machine downtime and loss of revenue.

With a wealth of data, however, comes the need to properly disseminate it. Like many things, it’s useless unless you know how to use it. If the wind power plant doesn’t have a technician on staff to track and examine the data, the owner may want to consider partnering with an external team of technicians to manage condition monitoring and recommending preventative maintenance for ensuring safety, productivity and efficiency for the wind power plant. This same technology has been implemented by the more established energy industries, such as gas and oil, coal, and nuclear, for quite some time, but is steadily expanding to wind energy. Many problems can even be solved by troubleshooting and resetting controls remotely, saving wind farm owners and operators time and headaches scheduling in-person repairs.

Regarding the above YouTube video: This video is a few years old but it talks about the recent job growth in this industry. Click the “play” button and share any related videos you think pertain to this topic in the comment section!

The wind farm maintenance industry is also promising a wealth of jobs for certified technicians and expanding programs for education and training. The skills required of technicians will also expand in scope as wind energy becomes more prominent and new wind turbine technologies are created. More knowledgeable and skilled technicians will increase the offerings available for better maintenance and repairs of wind turbine machines, and will hopefully contribute to the growth and success of the wind power industry.

What You Need to Know About Wind Turbine Maintenance

For wind farm owners, wind turbine maintenance is a major, unavoidable aspect of ensuring safety and efficiency when harnessing wind power. Proper maintenance helps to prevent unexpected breakdowns and accidents that could cause lengthy downtime.

One major aspect of maintenance includes performing end-of-warranty inspections. These are helpful and necessary for recognizing signs of distress on the turbine, such as premature wear or cracks that need to be repaired before the damage is done. Technicians will also examine wind turbines for balance and alignment issues, gears and gearbox problems and adequate lubrication. Wind turbine maintenance is important, especially when working with remote wind farms that are difficult to get to quickly in a time of emergency.

Planned maintenance helps to prevent minor issues from becoming large problems that cause downtime and lost revenue. Wind turbines are valuable pieces of machinery and regular lubrication is essential to keep these machines and all of their moving parts working well. Proper lubrication of the gearbox can even prolong the lifespan of the wind turbine, especially when it’s in an area of severe weather that may otherwise corrode and damage the mechanisms. Using good quality oil is important, too, to reduce the number of oil and filter changes the machine will need throughout its lifetime of use. The generator and blades will require adequate lubrication to run smoothly, as well. The entire system, including the wiring, coolant systems, seals, brake pads, bearings, blades, tower and electrical connections should all be inspected at least once a year.

>>>Fact Break – See Below<<<

wind energy facts

Proper alignment is an important part of wind turbine maintenance (MD&A’s Topless Alignment service is among the most reputable in the industry). Shaft alignment is critical for several reasons. Because wind turbines are located several hundred feet in the air, they must be prepared to withstand severe weather from a tall height. Proper, stable alignment is also necessary because of the high speeds required by the generator to convert wind power into energy. Good alignment prevents unwanted radial and axial forces from exerting force upon the machine’s bearings and gears, causing damage or wasting energy.

Preventative maintenance is the first line of defense from mechanical failure and loss of revenue for wind farm owners and operators. It’s similar to caring for your personal vehicle. Sure, your car may seem to be running just fine. It’s getting you from point A to point B, doing its job, but you can’t be sure what’s going on beneath the hood, or in the undercarriage. Likewise, your wind turbines may seem to be running as well as they normally do, but if you fail to schedule regular oil and filter changes, or have technicians examine them for wear and tear or loose bolts, you could be in for a rude awakening.

While there is planned maintenance, there is also unplanned wind turbine maintenance, too. This is where expertise and efficiency come in particularly handy from your technicians. If something goes awry, such as a loose bearing coming off, or an issue in the gearbox, you need a team of fast-acting experts to assess the situation and solve the problem quickly and safely.

The Ins and Outs of Wind Turbine Repair

A Quick Overview

Wind energy has become increasingly popular and looked upon as an economically competitive and increasingly necessary alternative to traditional fossil fuels. But with any machine comes the necessity for technicians skilled and knowledgeable in wind turbine repair and servicing their working parts. Necessary services typically include emergency and unscheduled maintenance, major component changes (including gear-boxes, generators and blades), inspections for end of warranty and other issues, oil changes, and up-tower gear box repairs and parts. Additional wind turbine services can range from commissioning support to the four-stage gearbox oil flushing process using lubricants, baroscopic examinations and reports, high-speed shaft alignments, condition monitoring, instrumentation installation as well as full generator inspection, repair and service.

The following is a response from a person who lives near a wind turbine farm:

wind turbine repair

Proper Maintenance

Whether your maintenance needs are scheduled or an unscheduled wind turbine repair, your team needs to work quickly and diligently to help ensure your wind turbine farm’s reliability and competitive edge isn’t lost in downtime while repairs are made. As a provider of renewable energy, people are depending on you to power them through the day. Even having just one wine turbine down can have major consequences for your productivity and profitability. This is why it’s especially important to be adamant about planning regular scheduled maintenance for all wind turbines your company operates. When proper maintenance isn’t kept up with, emergency repairs may start to become a problem. Unexpected wind turbine repairs can be fairly expensive, too. The cranes often required to achieve these repairs are rarely cheap to rent, and they tend to be even more expensive when called upon at a moment’s notice.

Notes About the Components

Some of the components that cause the most stoppages on wind power plants are the rotor and blades, electric generator, and improper balance. While gearboxes contribute to outages less frequently, when they do, it’s bad news. Gearbox repairs can shut a wind turbine down for upwards of a week, causing a major loss of revenue for power plant owners. The most common problem associated with wind turbine gearboxes is bearing inner race axial cracks. Gearboxes are more susceptible to breakdowns when they aren’t properly lubricated. Because of long idling periods, gearboxes are only operating 30 percent of the time, and thus need adequate lubrication to keep their components moving effectively. The variability of conditions, still, gusty, and extreme weather conditions can also contribute to wear and tear on the turbines.

LEARN MORE: Why Are There Gearboxes in Wind Turbines?

Conclusion

Wind turbine repairs should always be handled by a team of expert, trained technicians who are adherent to safety measures and the most up to date technologies for servicing and repairing wind turbines and their components. If possible, it can also be efficient to couple repair needs with maintenance services to group together services to eliminate extra visits from technicians. The need for repairs can be reduced, also, by utilizing a condition monitoring system to collect data from sensors within the turbines. Having this data is advantageous, as noticing small differences in vibrations or fluid contamination can prevent these problems from building up and causing unexpected breakdowns of wind turbine machines.