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Meet the People Who Fix Giant Wind Turbines for a Living

Technology By
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm in Riverside County, California (Ian D. Keating/Flickr)
San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm in Riverside County, California (Ian D. Keating/Flickr)

 

Those with a fear of heights may not be fit for the fastest growing job sector in America: wind turbine servicing.

Part engineer and part daredevil, wind turbine technicians are responsible for maintaining the machine from end-to-end. The country is increasingly relying on wind energy for power, in an effort to curb reliance on fossil fuels, so there’s a high demand for these intrepid workers. Standing as tall as 350 feet, the height of wind turbines alone would be enough to scare most away from the job.

In reality, being a wind turbine technician is safer than driving to work. That’s at least what Jessica Kilroy, a rock climber making money with wind turbine repair, told Great Big Story. Kilroy thinks that the roles require the same set of skills, which includes being able to get out of a sticky situation safely and, obviously, no fear of heights. When done carefully, the job can be done safely.

However, weather can sometimes pose a risk to technicians like Kilroy. Since wind turbines are largely built in rural areas, the towers are a prime target for lightning strikes. Turbines have systems that help ground electricity, but they don’t always work: lightning strikes, moisture, and a number of other natural elements can wear away at the tower’s fiberglass exterior, eventually leading to their collapse if the corrosion isn’t addressed.

To learn more about what the job is like, watch the video profile of Jessica Kilroy below.

RealClearLife Staff