Daniel working through a winter in the Baltic Sea at Kårehamn Offshore Wind Farm

“Nature and our turbines decide what work needs to be done”

Calm seas, sunset and rainbows – these are the scenes we so often see in images of RWE’s offshore wind farms. But the realities of working offshore are often far from this picture, particularly in the depths of winter. All technicians must complete rigorous safety training to work offshore but when the cold weather sets in, they face an even tougher job battling the elements to stay safe and keep the wind farms running.

Nowhere is this challenge more evident than at Kårehamn Offshore Wind Farm in Sweden. Situated 7km off the coast in the Baltic sea, conditions on site can be extreme in the winter, with temperatures often dropping below zero. Dealing with ice and snow can become commonplace during the winter months and in turn adds extra complications to an already demanding job.

Learning how to survive at sea 

Daniel has been an Offshore Technician at Kårehamn since 2013. After working as an electrician at a nuclear powerplant and in steelworks, he was drawn to the exciting working environment offshore that also fulfilled his passion for the sea.

Regarding the training required to begin his role offshore, Daniel explains: “All offshore technicians have to complete a sea survival course which prepares you for the potential dangers of the job. It involves a helicopter hoist, being submerged in a swimming pool to learn how to best escape if you become trapped underwater, jumping from heights, life raft training, plus a lot more.”

Dealing with hard weather conditions

And the winter conditions at Kårehamn require even more preparation from Daniel and the team. “More wind and waves and low temperatures with ice is the main issue,” he added. “Sometimes there is so much ice that we can’t go offshore at all. But when we do, we have to remove ice from the foundations and stop and start turbines remotely during transfers in order to avoid ice dropping from the turbines, which could cause injuries. To #EnjoyTomorrow, we of course have to avoid this.”

Demanding but rewarding

Daniel describes one of the biggest challenges to be exchanging large components like a gearbox. With crew working long days, tricky weather conditions, slip and trip hazards and risk of crush injuries, it’s no easy task. And the mental challenges can also be just as tough to deal with. “It can be challenging to be open to a change of plan every day,” said Daniel.

“Nature and our turbines decides what work needs to be done and we have to follow. Constantly remaining alert to the risks to your personal safety can be very mentally draining.

The adventurous journey to the working sites

“Plus, on a personal level, the travel to site is a challenge in itself. It’s a remote location with a long drive and juggling this with family life like taking your kids to school is not easy. You have to prepare both them and yourself for the day as I need to take all my food for offshore work. This is tough when you lack energy some days.”

But the #WorkTogether spirit prevails among the team. “Nevertheless we have a fantastic team and we work well together alongside the vessel crew. We try to get better and work smarter every day, and the views aren’t bad either.”

Certainly not your average day at the office to say the least.

“Nature and our turbines decide what work needs to be done”

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