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A visit to Europes largest onshore wind farm | A day at project Maximus in Northern Sweden

Written by Sigrid Carstairs
09/10/19 - 16:35

Last month (September), me and my colleague Kajsa Karlsson had the opportunity to visit project Maximus outside of Piteå in Northern Sweden. If you have followed me on LinkedIn for a while, you will know that this is a project I have been writing quite a lot about as I am supplying recruitment services to the site. As you can imagine, I myself was quite excited to see the project I have been raving on so much about.

However, when we woke up that morning we were shocked to see a thick mist lying over the Swedish north. This was obviously not ideal, but what could we do? Having travelled up the day before, with two flights for more than 7 hours, we figured we had to venture out to site anyway and hope that the fog would lift as the day went by.

Once we got to site, we did not have much luck though, and the mist lay thick over the site. All we could distinguish was the lower part of the tower, which we could identify as an Enercon turbine due to the green circles close to the foundation. We learned that the reason the tower carries coloured green rings above the foundation, which get brighter from bottom to top, has been implemented as a design feature to better integrate the plant towers into the horizon, and on islands, Enercon uses a gradation of blue instead. Something I myself found pretty smart, as it integrates the turbines better in nature.

However, we were not seeing much of these turbines as the mist lay thick around us. Continuing on towards Ersträsk and MB II (the different sections of the site) we hoped that this would change.

Once we got to the MB II section of the wind farm, the mist was starting to disappear. I myself took the opportunity to chat with one of my recruits on-site to see how he was getting on, which was enjoyable. I always find it interesting to see how people get on once they are in the job.

When we came out of the MB II site office, the mist was finally going away, and we decided to make a stop at the Ersträsk site office as well on our way back to meet some people there and take a look around. There was quite some difference from the morning hours! Now we could distinguish the entire turbine, rotor blades and all. 

The Enercon systems are visually quite easy to distinguish from the systems of other turbine manufacturers. The nacelles of the plants have been drop-shaped since 1995/96, and the design of this unique teardrop was developed by the British architect Norman Foster, who is also notable for designing the dome of the Berlin Reichstag (fun fact)! 

We had a bit of a look around the construction site, and it's quite amazing really when you think about the scale of this project. In my opinion, it's absolutely massive, and there is obviously quite a lot of planning and logistics involved in creating this kind of wind farm in the first place. I mean, the project development of this site and Svevind have been developing this project for years. Once fully realised and commissioned, this project will produce up to 10 TWh per year, which equals approximately 6.6% of the total electricity production in Sweden. That is pretty impressive.

When heading back towards Piteå, the weather had turned into a nice, crisp autumn day, and we stopped to take in the views across the site.

It is really quite remarkable to see this site develop, and I am excited to see the progress of it. Once it is finished off it is estimated to be 1101 turbines (aka. a lot of service and maintenance roles, so get in touch if you have electrical service skills and live locally)!

The green circles were more visible upfront and you can see how they gradually change. Looks pretty good actually, and hopefully serves as a bit of a tool to sway those who oppose wind farm construction in their region (although I do doubt it). But at least it helps a bit with the blending into the landscape, and I would argue it looks better than the smoke from a nuclear powerplant so thats a win.

I must admit that as a renewable energy recruiter, it was highly useful to visit a wind farm construction site and see with my own eyes what it's like on-site. As I recruit for a number of roles in wind farm construction, project engineering, electrical works project management etc., it is always nice to get to see the construction taking place with my own eyes. It definitely makes it easier to sell the wind energy sector to candidates who are making a switch of industry. Because this is something that really needs to be done in todays job market - we need to sell the job and the company. Especially in Scandinavia, where employment rates are high, and candidates really need a strong motivation to move from their current role (they won't just move for anything). As a recruiter, this is a large part of my job, to actually inform the candidates of the exciting opportunities in the renewables sector, and then ensure that this is reflected throughout the process. So, knowing more about wind farm construction, seeing a site in person, definitely has provided me with some solid insights in what a day on-site can look like.

As always, I am recruiting for several roles in the Scandinavian wind sector, and currently, I am keen on speaking to candidates who would suit the following roles;

  • Construction Manager (Civils) - based in Malmö (Sweden)
     
  • Construction Manager (Civils) - based in Helsinki (Finland)
     
  • Construction Manager (Civils) - based in Sundsvall, Härnösand, Hudiksvall or Umeå (Sweden)
     
  • Assistant Construction Manager (Civils) - based in Sundsvall, Härnösand, Hudiksvall or Umeå (Sweden)
     
  • Construction Director - based in Southern Sweden
     
  • Project Manager for concrete casting with measuring skills-based in Sundsvall, Härnösand, Hudiksvall or Umeå (Sweden)
     
  • 2x Project Manager (Wind Farm Construction) - based in Malmö (Sweden)
     
  • Project Manager (Wind Farm Construction) - based in Helsinki (Finland)
     
  • Team Lead for Project Engineering - based in Malmö (Sweden)
     
  • Head of Grid Connection and Operations - Halmstad or Stockholm (Sweden)
     
  • Authorised Installation Manager for HV Electrical works (A-behörig enl. Svenska regelverket) - based in Piteå (Sweden)
     
  • Project Engineer for HVS - based in Malmö (Sweden), but with substantial travel across Sweden during project peak times.
     
  • Project Engineer for HVS - based in Stockholm (Sweden) but with substantial travel across Sweden during peak project times.

 

If you want to hear more about the above roles, please contact me on +46 (0)40 668 80 66 and send your CV to sigrid.carstairs@cathcartenergy.com 

Also, even in the above roles aren't for you, I also work with roles focusing on Wind Farm Development and Sales, so maybe there is something in this area for yourself?

 

If you are reading this article, but think the service side of wind energy would be more for you please contact my colleague kajsa.karlsson@cathcartenergy.com 

Kajsa deals with roles in wind turbine service, installation and quality inspection, as well as operations (technical support and site management). She also handles some solar stuff so get in touch with her for any of the above!

 

I very much look forward to speaking to you. A large thanks to Enercon for showing us around on site!

 

Sigrid Carstairs

Recruitment Consultant

Cathcart Associated Energy Ltd.