Wind workers

Read a selection of wind workers stories, published in Wind Directions magazine. These are real people, working in every facet of wind energy, some of the thousands of employees that make their living in the wind industry.


Thomas Latacz, Head of Wind Measurement, BBB-Umwelt

What does your job involve?
I’m the head of the wind measurement department in a German wind energy consultancy. My main responsibility is the organisation and monitoring of wind measurement campaigns and the preparation of energy yield reports.

How did you come to work in a job related to the wind energy industry?
As a paraglider and mountaineer I was always fascinated by the strong effects of atmospheric processes on people. After studying environmental sciences I worked several years at an Institute for Applied Climatology at the University. The methods I got to know there are very similar to those used in the wind energy sector.

What is a typical day like for you?
My job profile is quite versatile. I can travel abroad quite a lot to supervise the erection of met masts and care for the proper installation of the sensors. Another day I have to adjust our LIDAR measurement unit somewhere in the green field [for an explanation of “LIDAR”, see p. 49, ed.]. When I am in the office I do the monitoring of our clients measurement campaigns with the help of a web-based tool that I developed for BBB. Last but not least, I prepare yield assessments based on these wind measurements mostly for complex terrain.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job?
Bring part of a positive and necessary development that will strongly determine the future of our planet is very satisfying. Furthermore it is nice to get deeper and deeper into a matter and to try to find new ways to optimise methods. A bad day is, when even despite careful preparation, I am outside and I am getting soaking wet.


Doris Klein-Hessling, Global Key Account Manager, Winergy

What does your job involve?
I work as a Global Key Account Manager within the Sales department of Winergy. My job involves doing everything necessary to fulfil customers’ needs.

How did you come to work in the wind energy industry?
Before I started at Winergy about seven years ago, I worked in an administration office. The combination of such a young industry like the wind industry and mechanical engineering interested me a lot. However at that point of time, I could not imagine how much I would like the industry and the product itself.

What is a typical day like for you?
A customer meeting or conference calls with customers are part of my working day. While having different time zones in India, China, US and Europe, I always try to organise my day so that my customers as well as my colleagues get a quick response to their requests. Beside commercial aspects like pricing, planning, and contract management for the different regions I work with my colleagues from Engineering, Production, Quality, Service and Sourcing on new product developments as well as on continuous process and product improvements.
 
What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job?
I do not like it when I need to make use of a contingency plan. Actually that is a very good motivation to avoid it.  There are a lot of things I like about my job. To work with a motivated and multicultural group of people makes it very enjoyable. Also to learn more every day about the market as well as the technique keeps it interesting.


Asli Bingöl, Quality Manager, Re-consult

What does your job involve?
As a quality manager, I set-up, manage and improve Re-consult’s quality management systems. In November last year Re-consult was awarded “designated operational entity” DOE status by the United Nation’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) [DOEs are independent auditors accredited to validate project proposals or verify whether implemented projects have achieved planned greenhouse gas emission reductions, ed.]
Over the last two years I was mainly busy implementing this additional quality management system. I organise and execute internal audits within the company and make sure that re-consult delivers quality work and satisfies its customers.

How did you come to work in the wind energy industry?
I was one of Re-consult’s first employees. When I started my job in 2006, wind energy was not very common in Turkey, so I didn’t really know what to expect. Re-consult was looking to implement the quality management system “ISO 9001” and I was hired due to my past experience in quality auditing. Before I started, I was an ISO 9001 auditor for CTR International Certification & Auditing.

What is a typical day like for you?
My typical day consists of reviewing our existing quality policies and procedures and planning how to improve the quality management systems, looking at any areas of weaknesses. I recommend and execute ways of improvement and work closely together with other division managers.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job?
The fun part about my job is continuous learning. As a Quality Manager I have to be very organised, able to handle several things at the same time and know how to deal with different people. This leads to me developing myself constantly. Being the only Turkish company that was ever accredited for wind potential measurements under ISO 17025 [an accreditation that applies to testing and calibration laboratories, ed.] fills me with a certain pride, especially when we are the only one out of the 40 companies world-wide with an accreditation as a DOE.

Being a perfectionist, I get stressed out when things do not meet my own personal standard or when accreditation or certification audit deadlines are looming. However, each and every audit enables me to envision opportunities within Re-consult and to further develop our quality systems.


Andreas Smith, Avian Radar Specialist, DeTect

What does your job involve?
I am the European Field Operations Manager of DeTect EU, with over 18 years’ experience in designing, developing and operating bird and bat radar systems. I have been based out of Poland for the past six years and am currently responsible for managing DeTect’s radar projects in Europe, Asia and Africa. My job involves performing wind park site surveys for future radar installations and tasks related to radar use, development and reporting.

How did you come to work in a job related to the wind energy industry?
In 1994, I joined a small group of biologists contracted by the US Air Force to develop a Bird Avoidance Model based on radar data.  Radar can ‘see’ birds that often are not visible to the human eye, and track and record their activity day and night in all but the worst weather. Bird radars were not connected to computers at that time, so counting birds was done by identifying targets on the radar screen and noting down their altitudes and flight directions.
At the turn of the century the computer technology was affordable and advanced enough that we connected the radar to a computer and started building a system to automate the manual process we had developed. As a result our Merlin Avian Radar System is able to specifically track targets based on bird and bat flight behaviour logic.

For the military we developed unique real-time collision risk models for different types of aircraft based on the position, number and mass of birds relative to the airspace through which the aircraft are manoeuvring.

Merlin can monitor the area around a wind park for specific risk ‘triggers’ relative to each site (for example, migratory birds, raptors, bats) and when risk goes up, the system can initiate a response including SMS and e-mail alerts to wind farm operators, activation of deterrent devices and if necessary, turbine idling.

What is a typical day like for you?
Thankfully, with the diversity of projects and locations that DeTect is involved, I don’t have many ‘typical’ days. This keeps my job both interesting and challenging.  I may be in the field in Turkey visually ‘ground-truthing’ birds in real-time with a Merlin system one week, and the next week I may be back in the office analysing results.

In my career, I have had the opportunity to work on projects throughout the US, Europe, Africa and Asia at a wide variety of commercial, industrial and military sites that includes both onshore and offshore wind parks (next week I will install our system on a wind park substation platform in the North Sea off the Belgian coast). Additionally, over the past four years I have worked on the company’s R&D projects that developed the world’s first solid state radar sensors designed and manufactured specifically for the detection and tracking of birds and bats.

What are your favourite and least favourite parts of your job?
The favourite parts of my job are working with new technologies and the opportunity to travel to many diverse and interesting places.  The least favourite parts are being away from my young son and sometimes travelling to less desirable locations such as a ‘hot and dusty’ air force base in Afghanistan!

Overall, as a wildlife biologist and career radar ornithologist, exploring the world with a bird radar is the perfect job for me!