Monitoring, Wind Power

Photoessay: A Day in the Life of a Wind Farm Operator

Have you ever wondered what it takes to run a wind farm? You’ve seen all the amazing photos taken from the tops of turbines, but do you know what the technician is actually doing up there?

A photographer followed around the crew at the Bull Hill Wind farm in Maine. Here’s a glimpse into their daily lives on the job.

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Bull Hill is a 34-MW wind farm located near the town of Eastbrook in Hancock County, Maine.

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Bull Hill Wind is composed of 19 wind turbines and powers about 16,000 homes annually. 

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Two First Wind employees and six Vestas employees work at Bull Hill daily in order to keep the turbines spinning and producing energy.

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First Wind employees perform periodic checks of substation and communication equipment. 

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These inspections ensure that everything is working properly and ensures proper performance of the specialized equipment at the wind farm.

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Turbine inspections, maintenance and periodic repairs are performed daily by on-site staff and are key to keeping everything spinning.

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Emergency equipment is inspected regularly to ensure that it functions.

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To reach the top of a turbine, a technician will climb 311 feet to the Nacelle where the generating equipment is housed.

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An average turbine climb takes about 10 minutes and is performed two to four times per week.

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The Nacelle houses an electrical generator, coupled to a gearbox, which is driven by the rotating turbine blades powered by wind forces. 

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Maintenance, troubleshooting and repair of components are performed on a scheduled basis, as well as spontaneously should a piece of equipment fail. 

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Technicians also need to perform hardware checks, physical condition checks and wind monitoring condition checks on top of the turbine. 

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Once atop the turbines, the technicians are standing 320 feet in the air above the Bull Hill landscape. 

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Many existing logging raods were used to build the site, minimizing its environmental impact.