Friday, March 28, 2014

Wind turbine repairs

click photo to enlarge
There's nothing secluded or furtive about the generation of electricity by wind turbines. Not only are the windmills themselves very tall, white, often in groups and consequently visible for miles, they also move and so the eye can't help but notice them. And it's those eye-catching qualities that, in the main, cause them to be unpopular. I say "in the main" because there is a significant minority who like them not only for what they do - the generation of "greener" energy - but also for what they are. Such people see beauty, elegance and the future in these tall machines.

However, one characteristic of all machines, be they traditional or leading edge, is their capacity to fail, to break down and to require repair and maintenance. You can often see individual turbines completely still, looking like a sullen schoolboy who hasn't been allowed to join the game, facing a completely different direction from that of its companions. These are frequently accompanied by a white van parked at the base and an open door in the column signifying the presence of an engineer. Given the conspicuousness of wind turbines it follows that when any work is being done on them, it is obvious for all to see, and not just in the form of the van. I posted a photograph last year of workmen abseiling down the blades of a turbine as they went about their repair work

The other day we saw across the fields a large crane next to a turbine and immediately knew it was receiving care and attention. On the following day I went to see what was going on and heard that a gearbox had been replaced. The crane that is capable of reaching the hub of one of these monsters was moving objects about on the ground in preparation for more work so I wasn't able to photograph it at its full height. But, I did get a distant shot of it at work. I also took a photograph of  a couple of men busy on the nacelle. As I drove home I reflected that repairing wind turbines isn't the sort of work I'd like to be involved in. The views must be great but the wind, the rain and not least the height and precariousness of your workplace are not to be envied.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Photo 1
Camera: Nikon D5300
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 140mm (210mm - 35mm equiv.) (heavy crop)
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/500 sec
Exposure Compensation: 0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On