When 25-year-old Esethu Mabena was told that she had been selected to participate as a trainee in a joint technical training initiative between Cookhouse Wind Farm and Suzlon, its operations and maintenance contractor, she was ecstatic.
“This is a dream come true for me as I’ve been yearning for an opportunity to receive training in this field”, she said.
The training, which will cover wind energy technology; health and safety; wind turbine electrics; wind turbine mechanics; hydraulics; rotor blade repair; and control systems, will provide Mabena with knowledge, understanding and skills to help her reach her goal of qualifying as a wind turbine service technician.
Mabena is one of a group of eight young people from Cookhouse Wind Farm's beneficiary communities to be offered this opportunity.
According to the South African Wind Energy Association (SAWEA), the country needs approximately 1700 service technicians, if the sector is to successfully deliver wind power to the national grid, in accordance with the Integrated Resource Plan.
The wind turbine service training (WTST) programme trains and qualifies wind turbine service technicians for the country’s wind energy industry, over a seven-month period. The participating students receive stipends for the duration of the programme and are based at the Cape Peninsula University of Technology for the first five months of their training. The last two months of the training will be in the field, where they will receive practical training.
Wind turbine service technicians are responsible for the service, maintenance, and repair of wind turbines. They inspect, diagnose and maintain, adjust or repair wind turbines, resolving electrical and mechanical malfunctions. They are able to work at heights in all weather conditions, including extreme cold and heat, for extended periods. Wind turbine technicians must be capable of working closely with other individuals.
“Considering that the wind energy industry is entering a period of exponential growth, we are positive that qualified wind turbine service technicians will be in demand, making this an ideal opportunity for our communities’ youth, especially as the role of these specialist technicians begins during the busy construction phase of a wind farm and continues up through the commissioning, operation, repairs and maintenance of wind turbines,” explained Tshepo Kgoloane, Cookhouse Wind Farm’s community operations manager.