Thursday, December 30, 2010

Techs not the only job blown in by the wind

Oregon's wind industry has grown rapidly in recent years, and we now rank fourth in the nation for existing wind power capacity according to the American Wind Energy Association. If the wind industry continues to expand, more Oregonians may begin looking for unique job opportunities in the sector. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are three distinct phases in the development of wind energy: manufacturing, project development, and operation and maintenance.

Phase 1: Manufacturing

Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) produce wind turbines.
• The OEMs construct the turbine blades out of fiberglass, which often extend greater than 100 feet.
• Towers are made of steel segments stacked on top of each other.
• The nacelle is the control tower of the wind turbine and holds the gears, generator, and other mechanical components.

Engineers design the three components of the wind turbines (blades, tower, and nacelle) separately. Machinists produce precision metal and plastic pieces and review the engineer's blueprints to ensure pieces are matched properly.

Phase 2: Project Development

Scientists conduct site visits, gather preliminary data, and conduct studies using computer models and other techniques.

After the site is selected, there is a need for construction workers, crane operators, wind turbine service technicians, and truck drivers. After the site has been prepared and the structure built, electricians connect the energy from the turbine's generator to the power grid of the community.

Phase 3: Operation and Maintenance

Wind turbines don't need regular human supervision to function. However, “wind techs” must respond, diagnose, and fix any problems quickly to minimize losses to the energy company.

With wind power giant Vestas recently deciding to locate its North American headquarters in Portland, statewide discussion about jobs in the wind industry has increased markedly. Many other companies and local producers have begun to show that they too will play an important role in the sector's development. As Oregonians look for career opportunities in the wind industry, it will be important to remember that the sector employs many types of workers.

The full article has A LOT more information. Check it out!

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