As an electrician at Mawson a fair amount of your time is spent climbing a 48 metre tower. At the top of this tower encased in a fibreglass shell is a 300Kw wind generator. It’s fairly small by today’s standards, and it feels like it when you have to squeeze past a control box to move around. I'm thinking that extra sausage roll and pineapple fritter for lunch was maybe not the best move. The fibreglass shell (nacelle) houses an array of boxes that control various things, such as pointing the turbine into the wind, and feathering the blades in and out of the wind to control how much wind energy to use. The blades are attached to a rather large lump of metal designed to spin at around 40-50 rpm. When not in operation it acts as a big heat sink for your hands at minus 20° Celsius.
This year there has been lots to do, replacing worn out capacitors (used to drive the blades out of the wind in an emergency), burnt contactors and fried control cards. One of the trickiest things to do is remember how to navigate through a display menu which is now upside down because you’ve locked the rotor in a different position. But it’s all very much worth it, having 300Kw of free energy makes a huge difference to the amount of diesel the station uses.
-Mark, Instrument Electrician