Wind turbines are devices that are designed to generate electricity through the natural force of wind. Wind places pressure on the wind turbine blades, which cause them to spin. As these blades spin, a torque shaft and a generator create kinetic energy that can be used in the same way that electricity produced in natural gas or coal power plants can be used. Wind turbine technicians maintain and repair these wind turbines.
The wind turbine technician performs scheduled preventative maintenance on wind turbines while following safety precautions. On a regular basis, oil filters must be replaced and bearings must be greased. Manual and hydraulic torque wrenches are used to test the torque of the wind turbine, according to Edison International. These technicians are also responsible for performing maintenance on the service vehicle and on performing housekeeping at wind turbine facilities. Whenever a part of the wind turbine is damaged, this part must be repaired or replaced.
Hazardous chemicals are sometimes handled by wind turbine technicians. Wind turbine technicians also often work at great heights that can lead to deadly falls if the technicians aren't careful, according to Edison International. Wind turbine technicians usually work 40 hours a week and work in shifts, since they must be ready to make repairs whenever a turbine is damaged.
Wind turbine technicians are overseen by lead wind turbine technicians who assign work to personnel, direct plant start-up and shutdown, diagnose potential problems with the wind turbines and ensure that the wind turbine technicians always have the appropriate tools. The wind turbine technicians must remain up-to-date on the latest laws and regulations regarding wind turbines, according to Edison International. Regular logs must be kept of all wind turbine repairs for regulatory agencies.
Community colleges often offer an associate degree in applied science, specializing in the wind turbine technician profession. This associate degree teaches wind economics, tower safety and turbine maintenance. Students will also learn about the electrical power generation industry, mechanical devices and hydraulic and electrical systems, according to Highland Community College. Those who work as wind turbine technicians must have mechanical aptitude and mathematical skills. Communication skills are also needed in order to be able to explain wind turbine concepts to personnel who operate the wind turbine.
Between 2008 and 2018, the need for maintenance workers in general is expected to grow by 11 percent, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Wind turbine technicians are in demand because society as a whole is motivated to find cleaner energy and reduce dependence on fossil fuels. As more and more wind turbines are built, more wind turbine technicians will be needed to maintain and repair wind turbines. The hourly wages for wind turbine technicians in 2010 ranged from $17.41 to $27.47, according to Payscale.com.
- Photo Credit wind turbine field image by sarit saliman from Fotolia.com
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- Salary of a Wind Turbine Technician