Thursday, August 19, 2010

wind turbines in wyoming

I'm well into this job now. After a month of classroom training in New York, I was sent to Illinois for a few weeks for on-the-job training and now I'm Wyoming going full time.

As for what I actually do in my job - I'm settling into a "Technical Advisor" position. You may have seen large wind turbine components sailing down the highway. First, these wind components arrive on the construction site. GE sends inspectors to greet the drivers and inspect the loot for damage. If it is badly damaged, they send it back to the factory. If it's good, the construction company will offload the component with a small crane.

Once all these pieces arrive in good shape, my coworkers and I step in and inspect the components to make sure all of the ladders are intact, bolts are torqued to the correct value, all of the bus bars (the aluminum rods that carry the electricity down the tower) are in good shape, etc. We make sure everything is installed to specification. Then the construction crews erect the towers. One medium-sized crane will set up two tower sections and build the rotor on the ground. Then the next day or so, another big crane (350 ton lifting capacity, 500 ton by weight - that's a 1 million pound crane) will come along and "top out" the tower - finishing out the last tower piece and setting the nacelle (the box behind the rotor where the electricity is generated) and the rotor.

My coworkers and I will do another inspection from top to bottom once the tower is built. We make sure the turbine is perfect - all parts are accounted for, are installed correctly and are clean. Once we finish our job, our commissioners plug her into the grid, hook her up to a GE-wide ethernet system and finally turn her on. If all goes well, she'll purr like a 21st century, $3million, 1.5MW cold-rolled-steel kitten.

Some numbers on the models we're erecting in Wyoming:
Each turbine is 80m tall. The rotor diameter is 77m wide.
Each turbine costs $3 million.
The output potential is 1.5MW. This is equal to the power consumption of 400-600 homes.
The expected lifetime is 20 years and the payback rate is 5-7 years (ie 13-15 years cool profit).
So bottom line, it's a clean energy cash cow if you have $3 million laying around.

(btw - These are my estimations coming from conversations I've had with different people in the past few weeks. They are not official numbers from my company. I'm just throwing something out there to wrap your head around if you're curious or want to spend $3M on something awesome.)

Anyway, I don't mean to over inform, I'm just trying to offer concrete information for anyone interested. I think my job is pretty awesome. And I'm certainly grateful for this opportunity to work and learn about this stuff.

Above are some pics from the job site.

I had one great video of the construction crew flying the rotor. It's pretty cool to watch... so I decided to put some more photos in there to show more of what's going on:

Also here's a link to my Peace Corps Manifesto, if you will, called "To Make A Village". It's a slathering of ideas on how to make Peace Corps better and simpler. And how to integrate new technology into the program:

okay well, I hope all is well with you good people.
until next time,


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Scott Lehmann said...

I've read your blog a couple of times, nice work, keep it. And good luck

613_L417K said...

nice pics,...............

Promotional Pens said...

Spectacular video! When you see these turbines in the distance... you don't realize just how enormous they really are until you get close to one.

Vivek the Conscience said...

nice work

I bring the real dirt said...

I hope you keep up the good work. "ALL WELL ENDS WELL"

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