Attendees from utilities, insurance, vendors and consultants attended a pre-conference technical tour on Monday, December 3, 2018 in Orlando, Florida as POWER-GEN International kicked off.
The tour was led by Peter Lukens, Project Manager for Training with Siemens Gamesa. The first stop along the tour were two sites where technicians in training learn about safety. From working at heights to rescuing a person from a confined space, Siemens wind technicians learn that safety is one of the most, if not the most, important aspect of what they learn at the center.
Wind farm technicians wear many pounds worth of safety equipment, including specialized hard hats, harnesses and a slew of tethering ropes, carabiners and anchors, and practice what is known as 100 percent tie-off, which means that techs are tied-in 100 percent of the time that they are outside of a wind turbine nacelle, for example, to make repairs to an anemometer or any of the other instruments that reside on top of the turbines.
Interestingly much of the safety equipment used by wind technicians was designed by the sports industry for rock climbing, ice climbing and other treacherous activities. Technicians have to complete a “fit for duty” assessment to ensure that they are in good enough shape to withstand the demands of the job.
At the training center, technicians also have plenty of classroom time, where they learn basics about electricity and electrical equipment and receive hands-on training with all of the actual equipment that they will see in the field. They also have classroom time for troubleshooting and can experience the remote operations room, a new feature at the center, in which technicians remotely monitor wind farms and can provide phone support for technicians in the field when needed.
Tour attendees also had the opportunity to go inside an SWT 3.0-101 wind turbine nacelle — a 3-MW direct drive machine with a permanent magnet generator that weighs in at 120 tons. The nacelle is used for advanced rescue classes, operations and maintenance training and troubleshooting scenarios.
The digital wind farm is a reality. Lukens said that there are sensors on almost every part of the turbine so that when a technician makes a service call, s/he knows the general area where the trouble has occurred.
The last stop on the tour was a look at wind turbine blades and blade design. Lukens explained that wind turbine blades are made with either glass or carbon fiber and showed attendees the approximately 90 different bolts in the root section of the blade while also explaining the intricacies of vortex generators and dino tails – small pointy additions to blades that help the turbine run more efficiently.