Wind Turbine Technicians
Main Topic: Environment and Society
Secondary Topic: Physical Geography
Overview: Wind turbine service technicians, also known as wind techs, install, maintain, and repair wind turbines. This is an extremely fast-growing occupation.
Wind turbines are large mechanical devices that convert wind energy into electricity. The turbine is made up of three major components: a tower, three blades, and a nacelle, which is composed of an outer case, generator, gearbox, and brakes. Wind turbine service technicians install and repair the components of these structures.
Although some windtechs are involved in building new wind turbines, most of their work is in maintaining them, particularly the nacelles, which contain the equipment that generates electricity.
Maintenance schedules are largely determined by a turbine’s hours in operation but can also vary by manufacturer. Turbines are monitored electronically from a central office, 24 hours a day. When a problem is detected, windtechs travel to the worksite and make the repairs. Typical maintenance includes inspecting components and lubricating parts. For turbines that operate year round, routine maintenance may occur one to three times a year.
Windtechs use safety harnesses and a variety of hand and power tools to do their work. They also use computers to diagnose electrical malfunctions. Most turbine monitoring equipment is located in the nacelle, which can be accessed both onsite and off.
Geographic skills are important for wind techs. Wind towers are often in very remote locations. They need to know how to read a map, understand terrain, comprehend the effects of weather, and be aware of the interaction between the environment and human activities, since their job duties are integrated with all these factors. Global positioning system (GPS) data and digital maps are also important for wind techs.
Geographers at work: Environmental geographers, physical geographers
Recommended College Courses: Environmental geography, physical geography, natural resource use and management
Skills: Map reading, spatial skills, understanding of physical terrain and weather, geographic information systems
Occupation Group: Installation, Maintenance, and Repair
Learn more about Wind Turbine Technicians from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics and U.S. Department of Labor: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/installation-maintenance-and-repair/wind-turbine-technicians.htm#tab-2
Written by Christopher Anderson