I service and troubleshoot wind turbines for a living. I have worked at various sites in the U.S. replacing large main components in coordination with crane companies. I work with various hydraulic systems and high voltage electrical systems. Ask me anything about the wind industry or renewable energy!

Here is a small album of some various jobs.

I'm off to bed, but feel free to keep the questions coming and I will do my best to answer them tomorrow!

Comments: 209 • Responses: 74  • Date: 

mscott808814 karma

Hope long does it take for 1 turbine to pay it's self off?

TurbineClimber16 karma

I can't answer exactly unfortunately. I would say it would depend on the size and cost of the turbine. I work on a platform that puts out 1.65 mW but there are many now that output 2 or more. Some are producing well over 3 mW with offshore having larger outputs. Our turbine life expectancy is 25 years, so I would assume it would take less time than that to pay for itself. They have become a lot more efficient and production costs in the U.S. have gone down over the recent decade as well which is leading to an increase in popularity. If I had to to make a guess, I would guess around 1-2 years

Troppin7 karma

Then you start raking in the sweet, leaf-blowin' piles of wind money.

TurbineClimber4 karma

And that sweet green energy!

plantbasedoil8 karma

Hi are there any mechanisms that detect ice on the blades and how do you remove ice buildup?thx.

TurbineClimber11 karma

Most turbines are designed to run with ice on the blades. That being said, there are multiple vibration sensors throughout the turbine that would detect any anomalies that would cause imbalances in the turbine. So if there were a large chunk at the end of one blade, it would cause vibrations at some point in the nacelle and the sensor would tell the turbine to shut down. They are generally coated evenly since they accumulate ice during production. We don't remove any ice but I believe there are companies looking at using drones for removal. I'm not sure why you would need it, but they are made to work in the cold and warm.

CalClimate7 karma

What was your worst day on the job like?

TurbineClimber19 karma

Probably when I got fiberglass behind my safety glasses and a piece scratched my cornea*. Ended up being blind for 3 days and was extremely painful.

gothvan2 karma

Retina or cornea???

TurbineClimber3 karma

Cornea! Good thing I'm a wind tech not an eye doctor XD

Razgriz206 karma

Omg thank you for this!

Are their any limiters in there to prevent the turbine from spinning to fast?

How often do they get struck by lightning? How well do they hold up to lightning strikes?

What material are the blades made out of?

I'm very geeking out and have so many more questions but I will stop for right now. Thank you for your time!!

TurbineClimber14 karma

So we have several overspeed systems in place. There are various sensors on the drive train both in the front and the rear of the gearbox as well as on the main rotor. They test for variation to see if the gearbox or drive train would be slipping, as well as direction, and speed. The turbine systems are designed so that they will only spin at a set number of revolutions per minute at the rotor side which transfers to the generator. This ensures a steady output of electricity is sent to the substations and is cleaned up before entering the grid.

Turbines get struck extremely frequently by lightning. They have several grounding guards in place for both mechanical and electrical components. The blades are generally made of a wood core with mesh wiring and covered in fiberglass. There are lightning receptors at the end of the blades that allow for electricity to flow through the whole turbine and be grounded down tower. For the electrical components, there are redundancies in place such as fuses and thermal overloads to ensure if a strike didn't go to ground it wouldn't harm any of the main systems. Sometimes strikes get through but I've never seen any major damage due to one.

I'm a geek about wind and love talking about it and sharing information, so ask away!

runaway32125 karma

What do you think is the most common wrong assumption about your job and Wind Turbines?

TurbineClimber20 karma

That they are noisy and kill a lot of birds and wildlife. And they can give you motion sickness or migraines. The noise and wildlife taking are partially true but the other two are nonsense. If they aren't running correctly, then they may make noticeable noises. But that means there is a problem with the turbine itself. IE brake sticking, bearings getting seized, etc. Luckily for us, most the land owners are farmers and will let us know if a turbine is being noisy. If it is, we help them out by finding the problem and they help us out by notifying us. They do make noise, but generally unless you are standing under one you aren't going to be able to hear them over the wind. As for the animal taking, we are require to report and submit any bird or other animal to higher authorities. We live in a bat migration line and during spring and fall we shut our turbines off from dusk to dawn to help prevent bats from being harvested. They really aren't very common and not nearly as much as a lot of people think they are.

DirtyoldGordon2 karma

Has any of The spokes ever fallen off ? How do u feel about heights ?

TurbineClimber4 karma

Spokes? Blades? Yeah occasionally. I'm quite used to them. Grew up on a farm so I was climbing on a ladder when I was 5 years old. Some people have issues at first, but you get used to it.

Razgriz204 karma

Is there a reason for the wind turbines to be placed so far apart? I understand that they have to be placed atleast 2x the blade length apart but it seems the distance is so much greater than that.

What is the minimum wind speed needed to get one of these things going?

How long does it take to get a wind turbine up and going? From shovels in the ground to spinning and producing power?

TurbineClimber8 karma

There are a couple factors in placement. One would be the contractual agreements with land owners. The only land requirement for a turbine is a square acre for the platform I work on and an access lane with a crane pad as an easement that is leased to the contractors. Some farmers are able to dictate if they want them on the edge of fields or are okay with them in the middle. There is also the factor that air is kind of like water and has currents and waves. So if you had a line of turbines very close together, they would actually be catching each others turbulence which is going to lead to variation in wind speeds which results in dirtier production. Another is safety. They do accumulate ice and they are machines that malfunction from time to time, so they are required to be a certain distance away from any building or road.

The minimum wind speed varies platform to platform. Some platforms are designed with larger blades to produce better at lower winds. In general I would say from 4 meters per second up. Our production curve is at 8 m/s all the way up to 15 m/s.

Farms are generally constructed in phases. It depends on farm size or phase size but a lot of farms are managing 50 turbines a year or more.

CalClimate3 karma

If a high school student thinks they might be interested in becoming a wind turbine technician, what should they study in high school and what do they need in college? How can they find out which institution has a good training program?

TurbineClimber3 karma

Some high schools are actually starting to have programs for wind that are prep classes or credit classes for 2 year wind trade school. Other than that, any mechanic or trade class along with computer classes would do. Being good at typing or knowing how to use a computer will go a long way as well as proving you can work on something. Generally if you can change your vehicles oil, we can train you to be a wind tech! I never went to wind school so I couldn't tell you what programs would be good. It's hit or miss from the people I've talked to. A lot of the knowledge is gained from experience and in the field. There's only so much you can learn in a classroom but it is nice to know why things work the way they do.

Madclem3 karma

Is there any easy way or short cut to summarize how much energy a single turbine produces for us lay folks? Like “one turbine produces enough energy for x homes”?

TurbineClimber6 karma

The platform I work on is pretty old and outputs 1.65 mW. So annually with average production rates that would be around 450-500 homes. But a lot of the new platforms are at least 2 mw and there are offshore turbines that produce a lot more. GE is supposedly working on a 12 mW turbine that would be 260 meters tall. (850 feet), which is ridiculous huge.

Sturnella20171 karma

I was in grad school (climate policy) in 2011, a prof told us about installing huge off-shore wind turbines, and the logistical challenges of doing so. Every time I’m on the WA/OR coast, I wonder about those turbine and how they aren’t there yet. Do you know when the plan is to get those going? It was nearly 10 years ago when I heard about them.

TurbineClimber3 karma

I'm not sure why they aren't there specifically but offshore wind is growing rapidly. Europe is a big participant in offshore. There is a much higher construction and production cost but you can put a turbine that's twice the size of a normal one in the ocean. I know there is a farm in lake Erie outside of Cleveland that's offshore. Not sure if west coast has any plans for them or not.

JimDerby3 karma

Here in Maine there has been an off shore farm in the planning near Mohegan Island for many years. The larest snag is the commercial fishermen are fighting all locations where the cables would come ashore. Part of it is the problem of the fishermen having to avoid the area where the cable is and I suspect part of it is following the lead of the pro-oil Trump administration.

TurbineClimber3 karma

Yeah, there is always going to be an anti wind movement. I get it, I don't think they should go everywhere and could see why a lot of people wouldn't want them, but I believe the benefits outweigh the detriments on them. Our county has over 1200 turbines across several farms. The county south of us got approval for a farm 2 years ago and still haven't started construction because people are against it even though it got approved.

Sturnella20172 karma

Conversely at the end of the spectrum, what can you tell us about smaller individual households turbines? Given the amount of electricity cited above from a huge turbine, have any idea why smaller turbines aren’t more common?yes output is lower, but the logistics are much simpler!

TurbineClimber5 karma

I have thought about building one before. Problem is with wind or any other renewable source like solar, you need to be able to store the energy. I would want a pretty large battery bank for storage and very large if I were to be 100% renewable. I have a solar setup with some old batteries, but to build a brand new battery storage unit with a good inverter would cost quite a bit to set up. Coupled with the fact a lot of people might not be able to construct a 40 foot tower to put a turbine on. That being said, renewable energy is growing substantially. I think once battery storage becomes cheaper and more accessible it will be a lot easier to do these things. You can go to menards and get a turbine for $400. If you have some old golf cart batteries you could wire them up and have an inverter. I power my garage off of solar panels and charge my utility vehicles with them as well.

CalClimate3 karma

What was your best day on the job like?

TurbineClimber9 karma

Best job would probably be the day we finished my first major component exchange with a crane. It was a nice warm day in the summertime and we got to hang out up top with the lid off and just chill. One of the few big jobs that went smooth!

CypripediumCalceolus2 karma

What's the gear ratio between the turbine and the generator? I hear that it's huge number and this is where they break. Is that so?

I won't ask about heights because I don't like them.

TurbineClimber3 karma

It's around 86 for our turbine. During production, the rotor spins at 14 RPM and the generator is at full production around 1200 RPM. Any part of the drive train can break, but for us it is probably the main bearing. The gearboxes do go out quite a bit as well as generators, but all can be replaced easily!

diMario2 karma

Do all wind turbines rotate in the same direction (clockwise or counterclockwise as seen from upwind) and if so, is there a particular reason for it?

TurbineClimber2 karma

Yes, they all rotate counter clockwise for production primarily due to the way the generator windings are set up.

4O4-user-not-found2 karma

Have you pooped from the deck yet?

TurbineClimber3 karma

I personally have not, but I have seen other techs drop bombs out of our external crane hatch. Usually we line a 5 gallon bucket with a trash bag or go down tower in a corn field. But hey sometimes when you gotta go, you just gotta go. And you would be amazed what places commissioners would use to take dump >.>

4O4-user-not-found2 karma

I remember doing a couple tower builds with vestas in the thumb of Michigan and once winter came I decided wind wasn't for me and went to gas. I now happily work at a 350MW gas peaker. The things I learned about wind though....life changing.

TurbineClimber1 karma

Do you like gas? I've only worked in wind but have always thought about other energy jobs.

SoylentRox2 karma

So how much room is actually up there inside the turbine nacelle? Is there enough room for a chair? Is there a power outlet using power from the turbine through a battery and inverter set?

TurbineClimber1 karma

Quite a bit, just really awkward. I'm 6'2 and can move around comfortably. You bang your head a lot when you first start, but it's not bad after you learn where everything is at. Might be room for a chair or two, but there are places to sit. 4 people could easily nap in a nacelle if they so chose. Not that I've ever tried XD

LAB_Plague1 karma

Every blade tech I've met also had a hammock in their gear bags. I swear, those guys know all the places to nap in a turbine

TurbineClimber1 karma

Haha there are some trade secrets ;)

SoylentRox1 karma

What about power? It just seems like it would be really ironic if there was no interior lighting or source of power since the voltages it produces are not usable. So you'd bring battery powered lamps and tools and could possibly run out doing work up there.

TurbineClimber2 karma

Oops, sorry forgot to answer that one. So we actually have 110 and lights and outlets running through the turbine as well as batteries for safety backup power to valves. A wind turbine does actually consume power before it makes power. We have 690 supplied from the grid that the turbine uses for startup procedures before it becomes self sufficient. Triggerboards and thyristors and contactors need to be able to fire before a turbine hits the grid, so you we have to have power in order to pitch the blades and yaw the turbine into the wind. We also have to be able to run heaters and pumps to warm the oil in the winter before starting the turbine up to prevent it from malfunctioning.

DampestFire2 karma

How much would you say a turbine sways when turning vs when not turning?

TurbineClimber3 karma

You don't really feel it swaying when it's not turning unless it's super windy. When it feels like you're on a boat. If it's turning in high winds it sways a lot. If you're up tower looking down the ladder while it is running and it stops running you can't see the bottom of the tower due to the amount it sways.

Gouper_da_Firetruck2 karma

Do you enjoy climbing?

TurbineClimber1 karma

I am fortunate enough to work on a farm with service lifts, so we don't climb much besides going down which is easy. On the rare occasion I actually don't mind climbing. It sucks when it's super cold or hot but I'll climb just to climb sometimes in the spring or fall.

JimDerby2 karma

Where are the blades and towers made? I think I recall of hearing of blades being made in Texas and shipped to Oregon. It's interesting to think about shipping such long loads.

TurbineClimber2 karma

I think it depends on the platform. Texas makes some, but I've seen blades from Denmark.

frogstein2 karma

How "smart" are the generators? Are they constantly in communication with a central station somewhere to report issues, or do you actually have to climb up there to diagnose them? If the former, what sorts of issues are they able to report?

TurbineClimber2 karma

The generators themselves aren't all that high tech, but the systems they are connected to are. A generator itself produces pretty dirty energy because it's always variable and not steady. So there are a lot of systems in place that the electricity goes through to clean it up before it gets sent to the grid. Generally for the platform I work on, if the generator is acting wonky we can diagnose it down tower. There is a computer that records all the power outputs and we can monitor phases on the generator. So if a gen is going bad, odds are it's going to overload a contactor a breaker. So we would get an alarm about a bad contactor or breaker tripped, go inspect it, and find out where the problem was coming from. We can use an insulator tester to test the generator phase to phase and phase to ground to see if any of the windings are going bad or it's going to ground on any of the steps. If this is the case, we will replace the whole generator.

shoney102 karma

What's your view on Tower Climbing Grease Monkeys?

TurbineClimber2 karma

I love their content and facebook group. They are getting ready to tour the midwest, I'd love if they stopped by our site.

FuckYouMayonnaise2 karma

Hello fellow Vestas tech! Been with them long? 12 years here, perhaps we've met :)

TurbineClimber2 karma

2 years technically with Vestas, 2 with Upwind

misshapenvulva1 karma

San Diego represent! Pretty sure you know my wife. She followed that same path, although not as a tech. Small world.

TurbineClimber1 karma

Nice, I went to training for UpWind in San Diego 4 years ago.

misshapenvulva1 karma

What part of the country are you in now? Guessing Midwest.

TurbineClimber1 karma

Correct!

I_Cant_Alphabet2 karma

Hey, which company do you work for? That album you provided looks like every other wind farm out there, but I work for a wind company also and it's cool to see this stuff on reddit.

TurbineClimber4 karma

Vestas currently

I_Cant_Alphabet1 karma

Enel here

TurbineClimber2 karma

Nice. I'd like to get on with Amazon or GE eventually.

LAB_Plague1 karma

GE are a pain in the ass if you're in the installation department, Vestas is so much smoother to install. Vestas also feel less cramped than GE. Better space in the nacelle

TurbineClimber1 karma

Yeah, GE is one of the few platforms I haven't been inside of, but I've heard others complain of the same things.

IllstudyYOU2 karma

How much was your very first paycheck ?

TurbineClimber3 karma

Not sure. But you can make over 100k a year with a couple years experience if you are willing to travel.

Matt_Goats1 karma

I'm currently in school to be a military electrician, do you think that my experience would transfer well to your field?

TurbineClimber1 karma

It will be very beneficial. Electrical knowledge is a great step in, and I know a lot of ex military guys. As long as you are a hard worker and somewhat mechanically inclined, you'd be a shoe in.

demdude12 karma

How high up do you have to go and do you get scared?

TurbineClimber2 karma

Roughly 300 feet and not really. You get used to it and forget you are up that high.

tridentloop2 karma

I have a four winds generator. It was made in early ninies for my sail boat. Any ideas on someone who can service it?

TurbineClimber3 karma

What needs serviced on it? Is it operable? I imagine it wouldn't be too hard to do yourself. Check all the connections and leads, check and maybe clean and re grease any bearings. If not, then maybe a marine store that does motor work could look at it?

DrBatman02 karma

What's your favorite breakfast food?

Addendum: how do you feel about the truth that breakfast is not, after all, the most important meal of the day?

TurbineClimber4 karma

I hardly ever eat breakfast. If I do it's probably waffles and peanut butter with syrup which is incredibly not healthy. If it is the most important meal I've been missing it for the last decade or so!

DovahFerret2 karma

Honestly, how dangerous is your job, or related jobs?

'is it worth it?

TurbineClimber5 karma

I'd say it's definitely higher risk, but not dangerous as long as you aren't complacent. We work with electricity and high voltages regularly. Falling is obviously the biggest factor, but we go through extensive training and have really good gear and programs in place to ensure it doesn't happen. I've been in wind for four years and never seen a deployment or bad fall anywhere. I think it is worth it 100%.

frogstein2 karma

Regarding the 25 year lifespan of the turbines, what sort of standard maintenance is required? How frequently? Once a turbine has exceeded its anticipated lifespan, do you automatically replace it or do you wait for it to fail? Can they be rebuilt or do they just build new from all new materials? Is the entire assembly replaced, or can you keep the tower and blades?

TurbineClimber6 karma

Standard maintenance runs in 6 month cycles. Our half year service includes adding lubrication to pumps, doing visuals, and taking oil samples, etc. 1 year cycle is more in depth where we will do system flushes and torque checking major structural integrity, replacing filters, hand torquing smaller things, changing calipers or brake pads, etc. Generally the structure of the turbine stays in place and we let the components fail. If a main bearing (rotor bearing) or gearbox or generator is going out, it goes to the point of failure and we replace that component and keep the remainder of the tower. The exception to this would be re-powering platforms. There are some platforms that weren't the best designed and aren't efficeient to run, so engineers found ways to replace the components while keeping the chunk of the tower. So say we go to do a re-power on a turbine. The rotor and blades would all be removed as well as the drive train (gearbox and generator) and most likely the nacelle (top tower cover for all the components) and the top 1/3 of the tower. Then another tower section would be added or possibly two depending on the new components being put in and a new rotor would be put on of a different style with a new drive train. The old parts would be sent and scrapped or rebuilt for other sites.

OscarTheGrouch842 karma

What safety precautions do you have in place if you get stuck away from ladder/crane? (referring to horrible video of wind turbine workers that were stuck on top with fire and no way off)

TurbineClimber6 karma

That was a big learning point in the wind industry. As sad as it was, it resulted in a lot of good safety programs and procedures. We have a variety of different systems and emergency response plans in place to prevent major accidents like that. Unfortunately those men died due to complacency and not having their gear with them. We have the ability to perform self or team rescues with two systems that can be mixed and matched along with some extra gear. We receive in depth training and practice real life scenarios annually. Biggest issue is fighting complacency. A lot of the gear we have on us isn't used and won't ever be used on 90% of the farms. But for the 10% I want to make sure I have everything and my team does as well.

HyperVpnT1 karma

Impeccable timing as this very vocation just came under my radar as something I find interesting and possibly would like to make a career out of. I apologize for being a day late and for the multitude of questions (if you’re still I’ll up to answering them) Here it goes:

How would you suggest getting into the field? Trade school perhaps? I believe you said in the comments you didn’t go to school so I’m wondering how you got involved in the field?

How much schooling would be necessary before being able to find a job?

Do you work solely on one farm? If that’s the case, how large is the farm?

Doing this in the Midwest, do you have to travel often (about how much driving a week)?

What are the working hours like? Typical 9-5?

How many other people are usually working with you in a day?

Do you have a uniform or preferred attire?

I’ve probably got more but I’ll leave it at that for now. Feel free to link me to prior comments you’ve made for redundancies sake. Thank you so much for taking the time to do this!

TurbineClimber3 karma

How would you suggest getting into the field? Trade school perhaps? I believe you said in the comments you didn’t go to school so I’m wondering how you got involved in the field? --You could go to trade school. I kind of just landed in it after trying to get in for a couple of years. I was a welder and fabricator for about 5 years before wind. Usually a wind school is a 2 year program. I've heard people say it was worth it and others say it was a waste of time and money. Honestly if you are mechanically inclined and a good worker you will be fine. If you are willing to travel for a year or two, that would be your best bet. Get your foot in the door, find a site or location you like and try to get on with them.

How much schooling would be necessary before being able to find a job?

--Most wind programs are 2 years for a degree

Do you work solely on one farm? If that’s the case, how large is the farm?

--I work on one farm. We are a pretty large farm and produce 400 mW of power. I mostly work on that farm nowadays but used to travel a couple times a year.

Doing this in the Midwest, do you have to travel often (about how much driving a week)?

--I drive 10 miles to work every day. We have some guys that live 45 minutes away but that's about it. Most of us are local guys and we have a few travelers on site at any given time.

What are the working hours like? Typical 9-5?

--We work 7-330, with 1 late night where 2 guys monitor the farm and we each get 1 weekend on-call out of the month where we will work Saturday or Sunday if need be.

How many other people are usually working with you in a day?

--At least 1, with the most being a crew of 4.

Do you have a uniform or preferred attire?

--We have to wear fire retardant uniforms in case there are arc flashes. They are provided for us and have knee pads and we have good steel toed boots provided as well.

CalClimate1 karma

I read recently someone saying, I think, that wind turbines could affect the downwind 'climate'. Have you heard mention of this? Example: Suppose that there's a pressure differential between point A where the wind turbines get installed, point B 20 miles downwind from A, and point C 20 miles downwind from B. Will the installation of the wind turbines at A - by slowing the 'downwind' wind speed - cause any reduction of windspeed at point B?

TurbineClimber2 karma

I mean, I wouldn't think it would change it significantly. They do create turbulence which is why they are spread out so far, but I doubt there is any effect a mile away from where a turbine is located. It would be like water generators. They make energy from the current but aren't going to change the current completely.

scatTURDaye1 karma

What kind of car do you drive? Cts-v?

TurbineClimber1 karma

Dodge Ram 1500 with a 5.7L V8 Hemi. Wouldn't mind a cts-v though!

mystical_ninja1 karma

Whenever I see these things in the wild I get a deep sense of foreboding. Why ?

TurbineClimber2 karma

Not sure, I think they are neat machines and it makes me excited for our future.

singdawg1 karma

Do you need to use any software daily? if so, which?

TurbineClimber1 karma

We use a program that gives us remote access on our computers. So we can see what the turbine sees and control it and monitor power outputs from our laptops.

singdawg1 karma

Is it proprietary? ie developed by your company?

TurbineClimber1 karma

Yes it is

singdawg1 karma

Makes sense, cant trust anybody else's shit. I guess your company has some control system engineers/developers on full time?

TurbineClimber1 karma

Yeah it's a Danish company and the biggest wind producer in the world. (Vestas). They have a lot of proprietary information and have been in the industry a long time and advanced it. It's pretty cool working for them, but have to be careful what you say or post online haha

singdawg2 karma

Yep. Thats why I didnt ask specifics lol.

I had plans to go into control system engineering but currently producing CAD software. Fun stuff but I bet the hands on work is great too

TurbineClimber1 karma

Appreciate it, lot of people get pissy when you can't tell them everything. I messed around with CAD before I started in wind, it's a neet field to be in!

waruiotaku1 karma

What is the down side of solar and wind electricity production. I mean I have heard about some of the things associated with manufacture and maintenance and environmental damage caused by these things. Are there no aesthetic problems or actual damage to the environment caused by wind generation and solar generation? What about waste disposal after their useful life ends? Aren't there toxic things that can't be disposed of in land fills and can affect the ground water?

TurbineClimber2 karma

I'd say the biggest downfall right now is the inability to store large amounts if energy to make them more reliable. I personally don't think it's an aesthetic problem. I can understand why you wouldn't want them everywhere but most wind farms are in the middle of nowhere. I think the environmental footprint is far less and insignificant compared to fracking, coal burning, or oil drills. A turbine is never going to harm the environment as much as the Deepwater Horizon event. As far as the life span, a lot of older turbines are getting re-powered, which means keeping the tower bases but replacing the production components. And as for contamination, we are require to report any oil spill over 1 gallon. Say if there is a spill, we will dig out an area much larger than the spill and send it off for waste management disposal. But again, I'd say it would be way less significant than an oil spoil.

waruiotaku1 karma

I meant to be asking about contamination in land fills and ground water from the toxic materials used to manufacture both wind generators and solar panels.

TurbineClimber1 karma

What toxic materials used in manufacturing exactly? I would assume they get properly disposed of and don't go to landfills. There are pretty strict regulations in place to prevent things like that from happening.

waruiotaku1 karma

Wondering about the cost.

TurbineClimber1 karma

I wouldn't really be able to tell ya, sorry

waruiotaku1 karma

It would be a factor in overall efficiency.

TurbineClimber1 karma

I guess, but you could say that about any product that is produced

waruiotaku1 karma

https://www.ucsusa.org/clean-energy/renewable-energy/environmental-impacts

Thin-film PV cells contain a number of more toxic materials than those used in traditional silicon photovoltaic cells, including gallium arsenide, copper-indium-gallium-diselenide, and cadmium-telluride[5]. If not handled and disposed of properly, these materials could pose serious environmental or public health threats.

TurbineClimber1 karma

I don't know what cells you are talking about. And like I said, if there are any I'm sure they are disposed of properly.

afinemax1 karma

If I intended to start a wind farm with 1 “good / large” turbine what would be the cost? (Per kwh capacity)

TurbineClimber2 karma

I couldn't tell you the cost of a whole farm, but turbines are generally $1-2 million per mW. Most modern turbines are at least 2 mW, so I'd say around $3-4 per turbine. A modern good/large turbine probably produces between 2-3 mW which I believe is 5 million kwh a year. Plus you've got to add the cost of putting in sub stations, access lanes, crane work, utility lines and poles, etc. It's a lot of money that's for sure!

brooksbacon1 karma

Why is bigger better, I.e. why not have many very small turbines? I am sure there is a very simple reason but haven’t been able to find with google.

TurbineClimber3 karma

Because the bigger the generator the bigger the voltage a turbine can produce. If a turbine produces 2.3 mW at production, odds are it would take a ton of smaller ones to get anywhere near that. And once you start going bigger, it becomes more efficient. There are off shore turbines that are three times the size of a normal turbine that produce 5-8 times the power we do.

Badoit17781 karma

If you had a work day monday, but it wasn’t paid and it was optional to go or not.... would you go in just for the fun of work?

Good ama!

TurbineClimber2 karma

Haha, I love my job but not sure I love it that much. Would probably choose to stay home with the family. But I get together with a lot of other work guys quite often, so maybe if we were to have a cookout and poker day I would!

scooterboy19611 karma

Why are the turbines grouped in farms?

I've heard people say they don't like them (Ted Kenedy) but I think they are majestic and elegant.

TurbineClimber1 karma

It has to do with turbulance and wind patterns. And I agree, I think they are beautiful

DesertTripper1 karma

Which turbine manufacturers manufacture the most reliable units? I talked to some windfarm workers in the Tehachapis several years ago and they swore by Vestas. There are some older ones out there by Mitsubishi that have earned the nickname "Mucholeaky" because the blades are often soiled with oil from the variable blade pitch system.

TurbineClimber3 karma

Vestsas turbines are pretty reliable. But they also use hydraulic pitch which can get messy. Personally I prefer the Vestas platform, but GE makes great turbines as well. I've been fortunate enough to not have to work on any Mistubishis haha.

CareerQthrowaway271 karma

Siemans all the way

TurbineClimber1 karma

We just had a 5th stage of Siemens go in. Everybody I've talked to says they love working for Amazon, but I haven't heard much about the platform. You like them?

PandaKid1 karma

Why 3 blades and not 4 or 2 for example?

TurbineClimber2 karma

My guess would be 3 blades is the most efficient in terms of production cost and effectiveness.

vAvoidtheBoat1 karma

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TurbineClimber2 karma

Only if they are spinning!

vAvoidtheBoat1 karma

What's the closest call that you have had while working on the job? Also, thanks for doing this!

TurbineClimber2 karma

I'd say personally is I've slipped on the ladder climbing down. Luckily I caught myself and had all my gear on, but that initial little drop gives your heart a rush and get's your adrenaline going.

Angdrambor2 karma

had all my gear on

Does that mean it would have caught you if you hadn't caught yourself?

TurbineClimber3 karma

Correct. While climbing on the ladder we use a device called a ladsafe. It's pretty much a cable grab that slides as we climb. If we fall fast enough, it catches us and stops us.

[deleted]1 karma

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TurbineClimber1 karma

Haha, you get used to it. I try not to be pretentious and correct them all the time, but I don't really mind what people call them.

[deleted]1 karma

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TurbineClimber2 karma

I'd say starting out around 40-50k and upwards of 100k if you want to travel and get on with a good company.

thegreatgazoo1 karma

What are the output voltages on them?

How are they wired together? Is it usually above ground or underground?

TurbineClimber2 karma

Depends on the platform but our generator outputs 690 volts that goes down tower and sent into a transformer that steps it up to 32.5 kV and sends it to the sub station. Other platforms have up tower transformers that send the full load down tower to the grid.

CalClimate1 karma

What surprised you the most about doing this job, that you didn't expect?

TurbineClimber5 karma

How much I would like it and the friendships I would build with my coworkers. You are forced to be in tight spaces with others all day every day, so you get really used to them. It's kind of like a big family. Even if we disagree on something we are all there for each other.

OscarTheGrouch841 karma

Very interesting and sad to hear. Are there pre established anchor points for tying into to rappel down? What is your rescue setup consist of??

TurbineClimber4 karma

Yeah so we have specified and unspecified anchors we could use. Ideally for a rescue we would have access to a specified anchor which has been rated for 5,000 pounds. If not, we are allowed to use an anchor of "overwhelming strength." Which pretty much means "Could I hang a truck from this". If it will hold a truck it will hold my ass long enough to get down tower!

It consists of a 4:1 pulley that can be used for leverage to move somebody. The main aspect of it is a tensioning wheel that we can use to raise and lower ourselves or somebody else. We also have a tension device with a lever we can use that is attached to us at all times for self rescue. Other than that it's mostly rigging and setting up. Our emergency response kit has a backboard with neck brace, trauma kit, aed, and a few other things. A lot of people don't realize EMT's or firemen can't enter a wind turbine, so if somebody goes down, our biggest priority in the rescue is to get them to the ground as quickly and safely as possible.

Woodshed121 karma

What do you think about using drones for inspections?

TurbineClimber4 karma

I think it's a great idea. We contract other companies to come and do blade inspections with drones to determine if we need to do composite blade work. Generally, we can see major blade damage from the ground but drones do a better job than the naked eye to inspect them.

sleepingsysadmin1 karma

How many dead birds do you see a year?

TurbineClimber10 karma

I've only found a bird or two a year with 0 most years. Never seen any hawks or eagles or owls in four years. Bats are probably the most common. I think I've seen from 1-4 bats a year. When we do see a bat, we are required to notify our management and document it and they pass it on to specialists who submit it to federal programs. We go over a big presentation about being in accordance with the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. Also we curtail or turn off our turbines during bat migration seasons from dusk to dawn in the spring and fall.

Fun fact (or not so fun), when the Deepwater Horizon disaster occurred, one of the only environmental felonies BP was convicted of was being in violation of the Migratory Bird Act and had to pay out $100 million.

Tedohadoer1 karma

Could a small, not-so-tall wind turbine located in my backyard be a viable option to lower my electrical bill? Just in theory.

TurbineClimber2 karma

It could help, especially if you wanted to run like a garage or shop or just your lights off of it. Problem is you would need to be able to store the energy so you would need batteries and an inverter. But you can buy small turbines for $4-500 I think. If you paid for it up front, I'm sure over enough time you would save money.

Stellarspace1234-4 karma

How many birds have you killed by maintaining the wind turbine and how’s the noise pollution?

TurbineClimber5 karma

I haven't killed any by maintaining turbines. I've addressed the noise "pollution" in another question though. I have killed hundreds of bird by blasting them with a shotgun out of the air so I could feed my friends and family though. As well as deer, rabbit, and squirrels.

Stellarspace1234-3 karma

But what happened to saving the environment?

TurbineClimber7 karma

Circle of life my friend. And it's a lot more environmentally friendly to hunt and grow your own food than go to the grocery store.