As one of the fastest-growing energy sub-sectors, there’s never been a better time to work as a Wind Engineer. In 2020, the global wind sector had its best year in history with 93 GW of new capacity installed – a 53% year-on-year increase.
In the past decade, the global wind market has quadrupled in size, making it one of the most cost-competitive and reliable power sources in the world. Over the last couple of years, the market has been driven by installations in China and the US, who together installed nearly 80% of all wind installations in 2020.
With many countries across the world aiming to achieve net zero by 2050, the wind sector will continue to be a desirable market for engineers for the next few decades at least. With one of the highest-paying salaries in the energy sector, working as a Wind Engineer can be a lucrative career choice.
Let’s take a closer look at what a day in the life of a Wind Engineer looks like:
What does a Wind Engineer do?
Wind Engineers design, build, and maintain wind energy collection systems that use the natural power of moving air to create electricity. They typically work on wind farm installations in remote locations.
The role can be varied, with projects involving the design of turbines, the overseeing of wind farm layouts, and being responsible for the construction, installation and maintenance of turbines. Some Wind Engineers also analyse and optimize the designs of supporting infrastructure like roads and transmission lines.
On the technical side, an engineer might focus on designing hardware, including rotor blades, electrical systems, and energy production systems. In such cases, the engineer would also be responsible for testing new designs and documenting results.
The role can also involve a certain amount of risk, with engineers having to climb turbines to check for faults, replace filters, and top up oil levels. They may also need to crawl into tight spaces to carry out routine checks and maintenance.
In a planning and design role, a Wind Engineer would be responsible for scoping new locations for wind farms, overseeing production programmes, and managing technicians and other site workers. They’d also be responsible for procuring suitable equipment, ensuring projects are delivered on time, within budget, and to environmental standards.
Where does a Wind Engineer Work?
Depending on their particular responsibilities, a Wind Engineer can work in an office, on a wind farm, in a laboratory, or on an industrial plant. For example, a mechanical engineer, might spend most of their time on-site at wind farms, maintaining hardware. Whereas a materials engineer, might be based in a factory or laboratory, building components.
The role of a Wind Engineer can involve a lot of travel to different sites. In many cases, engineers need to travel internationally, particularly if they work for an international company. Many of the largest wind farm projects are based in the U.S. and China, like the Jiuquan Wind Power Base in Gansu, and the Alta Wind Energy Centre in California.
What does a typical day look like for a Wind Engineer?
Most Wind Engineers work work full time, and many work more than 40 hours per week. Given the essential nature of the role, some mechanical engineers can often find themselves working irregular hours to meet deadlines, or when handling emergencies. Some engineers are required to be on call 24-hours a day to respond to turbine or system failures.
A typical morning as a Wind Engineer might begin by reporting to the office to attend a briefing and to gather all relevant paperwork or equipment for the day’s project.
For engineers that work on turbines, their next stop might be heading to the warehouse to collect all the necessary tools for working on-site. This could include gathering harness equipment, or immersion suits if the wind farm is located offshore.
If the wind farm is located in a remote location, the engineers would be transported to the site by road, or by air (typically by helicopter) to start the day’s work. Once on-site, the engineer would start their ascension to the top of the turbine, which can be around 100 metres high.
For engineers that are office-based, a typical day might begin in the same way, but instead of being transported on-site, they’d work from factories, or laboratories, designing and developing component parts, or liaising with relevant stakeholders.
How do I become a Wind Engineer?
Now is the perfect time to become a Wind Engineer and make a lasting, positive impact on the environment. As the world shifts from using fossil fuels, towards renewable energy, this is an exciting time to work in the wind sector.
To become a Wind Engineer, you’ll need to have a Bachelor’s degree in an engineering subject, or a related discipline like Physics. Some employers prefer candidates to have a Master’s degree in a more specialised area like Civil Engineering, or Wind Engineering.
In some cases, you might be able to train as a Wind Engineer through a graduate scheme or apprenticeship programme.
To work in this field, you’ll need to have strong research and design skills, and be confident using computer software programmes. You’ll also need to have good analytical skills as many roles require gathering and evaluating data. Wind Engineers also work closely with other energy professionals, so you’ll need to have good interpersonal skills and be able to communicate clearly.
Wind Engineer jobs in the energy industry
We recently published its Energy Outlook Report 2021-22 and revealed that the renewables sector is rapidly increasing in popularity among energy industry professionals. Specifically, in the oil and gas sector, 56% of workers are willing shift towards renewables.
Echoing this shift, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) recently reported that the wind industry will need to train over 480,000 people in the next five years, to meet worldwide demand for power.
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