Nicole and Simon tell how they support each other during the overhaul of the Herdecke pumped storage power plant

Two buddies in the biggest project in hydropower

Two buddies in the biggest project in hydropower

First day of work in the middle of the main overhaul at the largest pumped storage power plant in North Rhine-Westphalia - and then in the home office, too! It’s good that newcomer Nicole could rely on the support of her buddy Simon. In an interview, the two tell us how they are tackling the major project at Herdecke together.   


Nicole has been working as a project engineer in RWE Power's "Hydropower Technology" department since 1 February 2021, and is currently part of the Herdecke overhaul team. She previously completed a trainee programme at RWE Generation and worked at the waste-to-energy plant in Essen-Karnap and the Claus C gas-fired power plant in the Netherlands, among other places. Before joining RWE, she studied mechanical engineering at the Ruhr University in Bochum and worked at the International Geothermal Centre in Bochum.
Simon has been working in the hydropower division of RWE Power since April 2018. Initially, he went through various departments in a trainee programme and was also deployed in Vianden (Luxembourg) at the SEO investment company, among others. Since October 2019, he has been working as a project engineer in the "Hydropower Technology" department and is currently involved in the overhaul project at the Herdecke pumped storage power plant. Before joining RWE, he studied industrial engineering at Leibniz University in Hanover. 

The interview

You are both currently involved in the largest hydroelectric power overhaul project in 30 years at the Herdecke pumped storage power plant. Nicole, how important is it to have a good buddy by your side?

Nicole: For me, Simon's support has been invaluable, especially in my early days. I want to familiarise myself with my new tasks as quickly and intensively as possible so that I can contribute to the success of the project. Since Simon is our deputy technical construction manager for all the machine technology, he has a good overview of the entire project. He introduced me to all the colleagues I now work closely with and showed me the pumped storage power plant in detail. If I have questions of any kind, he is always available to help me. We exchange ideas every day - whether in person on site, by phone or via Skype. 

Simon: Nicole was very committed right from the start and is already, after just two months, an indispensable part of our team. Sometimes I have the feeling that she already knows the plant better than I do. I'm very happy about that, because in an overhaul project of this size, every helping hand is valuable. 

Have you also been able to benefit from your new duties as a buddy, Simon? 

Simon: For me, the change of perspective is really exciting: not so long ago, I had the same questions as Nicole. In the last three years I have learned so much that I can now answer them. Which programmes do we work with? Where are our drawings stored? How is the pumped storage power plant constructed in detail? At the same time, Nicole brings a breath of fresh air into the team with her questions and previous experience, so that we can perhaps rethink and improve existing processes. I was also able to benefit greatly from her SAP knowledge. I have never found my buddy task time-consuming or burdensome. Quite the opposite: it's an absolute win-win situation. 

So you are well positioned for the next steps. What exactly are your tasks in the project? 

Simon: I’m responsible in particular for the renewal of the corrosion protection of the hydraulic steelwork components in the power plant and I am the deputy construction manager for all the mechanical engineering. 

Nicole: I’m mainly involved in the area of the pump turbine. From 12 April, it will be shut down for overhaul. The individual components will be removed with our crane system, where the first findings will be recorded and the further transport prepared. Above all, the co-ordination of the work presents us with great challenges, as work is also being done on the ball valve and the pressure compensation stuffing box at the same time. 

Nicole, could you imagine becoming a buddy for a newcomer? 

Nicole: I would love to pass on my experience. Especially nowadays, when mobile working is the order of the day, it's good to have a permanent contact person. For example, my first working day in the new department took place in my home office. I was glad that Simon contacted me and supported me in my first steps. I would like to continue this at some point and take care of the next newcomer. 

What was your best buddy moment? 

Simon: That was definitely our first day working together on site in Herdecke. In bright sunshine, I showed Nicole the entire pumped storage power plant.  

Nicole: That day we were also up at the upper reservoir, from where you have a great view of the river. That was definitely a nice moment! 

Thank you very much for the interview.


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