Shining a light on solar power safety

The wind industry is doing a great job of creating safe operating conditions in a frequently hostile and dangerous environment. There have been incidents, to be sure, but in general wind has a great safety record compared to other power sectors.

In part, this may be because it is hard to take safety for granted when you are working on a wind turbine. Up high above the ground, surrounded by moving parts, it makes sense to put safety first. Not all renewable energy workers operate in the face of such clear risks.

Take solar panel installers, for instance. Solar PV has got to be one of the safest forms of power generation you can imagine. It has no moving parts. It will not spill or burn. And if the sun isn’t shining it won’t even produce an electric current.

But that is not to say the sector is free from risk. In 2015, for example, a solar installer tragically died after falling through the roof of a barn in Preston, UK, while he was putting up panels.

His employer, Eco Generation, was fined £45,000 after it emerged the company had failed to provide vital safety equipment. “The court was told there were several measures Eco Generation could have taken to protect workers,” Installer Magazine reported.

As with many work-related incidents, it appears this was sadly a case of an accident that could have been avoided if the right safety culture had been in place.

There are many ways a business can improve safety, and one of the most basic, which will also help to improve business efficiency, is to have a smart tracking system in place so each technician goes to work with the right equipment, in the right condition.

The solar sector might seem like a low-risk industry, but as long as rooftops and high voltages are concerned it would pay to play it safe… and introduce the kinds of technologies that wind companies have been relying on for years.

Contact us now for more information about how to make your business a safer, more efficient place.

Welcome to the wind farm technician’s worst hour

It’s a pretty thankless task, saving the world. Those massive wind turbines turning far out to sea need careful nurturing as they fight global warming and bring down the cost of energy.

To look after these gigantic machines, technicians must rise with the first light and prepare meticulously for the day ahead.

Each technician travels many hours a day, from home to a distant port and then out into the vast ocean, enduring drizzle, cold and wind. Then they climb into the belly of an air-slicing monster and scale hundreds of feet into the grey North Sea sky.

There they must stay alert for the tiniest details, like the hairline crack that gives away a budding blade failure or the flicker on a boroscope that signals a gearbox in trouble.

The work must be done carefully but fast: fading light, changing tide, wind picking up, a storm front moving in, can all add to the pressure to work as quickly as possible.

Still, though, every observation must be meticulously noted down, because tomorrow another technician could be climbing these same rungs and looking for the same hairline crack. Then it’s back to the vessel and the long, cold trip back to port.

All the technician wants to do now is get home, to a warm supper. They can’t, though. Instead, they must go to the office and log every note, every incident, every update, into the system, so tomorrow’s crews know where to go and what to look for.

That final hour, cursing as numb fingers make mistakes and numb neurons search for details, is the offshore wind farm technician’s worst. But it need not be so.

With Papertrail, the nightmare hour ceases to exist, because everything they do can be logged as they work. A crack on a blade? Save the photo on Papertrail. A check that a safety hatch is in working order? Add it to Papertrail. A missing harness? Notify it on Papertrail.

Then, as soon as the technician comes within reach of a mobile or Wi-Fi network, the notes on their mobile device flow seamlessly onto the system. So the technician steps off the vessel, waves goodbye, and heads home to get a good night’s rest before the next day.

 Working in renewables? Find out more about how Papertrail can make your life easier.

How Rope Access Generates Significant Cost Savings

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Creating operational efficiencies is a core service offering at Papertrail. We pride ourselves on finding ways to reduce compliance, asset management and health and safety costs. The more clients save, the more they can drive forward innovation and generate healthy profits.

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Five Ways Rope Access Technicians Can Improve Operational Efficiency

Vertical working has always been high risk and challenging. Gaining access, staying safe, protecting those working from falls and knowing your means of descent or rescue are all part of the job for Rope Access technicians and managers. 

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Capture More Real-Time Data: Improving Asset Management Decisions

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We’ve recently announced that Papertrail is now managing over 2,000,000 safety and compliance records from over 2,100 account users around the world. We are processing more real-time data every day with a platform simple enough for small organisations and powerful enough for multinationals.

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Reducing Downtime On Wind Turbines: Creating More with Less

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Natural wind consumes the lion’s share of renewable energy investments in the UK. Between 2010 and 2014, £14.6 billion was invested, with a further £20 billion expected until 2020.  

Consequently, renewables have already shown the ability to contribute 25% of the UK’s energy mix. In 2015, green energy generated more electricity than nuclear and coal for an entire quarter.

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Asset Management: Mission Critical for Renewable Energy Companies

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Renewable energy is increasingly popular across Europe and the rest of the world. In the UK alone, renewables – wind, solar, bioenergy – account for 20% of the UK’s energy mix. In 2015, green energy generated more electricity than nuclear and coal for a whole quarter.

Indeed, the now-historic Paris climate deal, signed at the COP 21: UN climate change conference in December 2015, could not have taken place if countries and private industry weren’t already committed to renewable energy. Continue Reading…

Siemens and Gamesa to Create World’s Largest Wind Energy Company

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Green energy is big business. Since 2015, green energy now generates more electricity than nuclear and coal in the UK. Wind is a vital – and growing – component of this and many other countries energy resources. The wind energy market is about to get more competitive, with the recent announcement that Siemens and Gamesa, a Spanish wind giant, are going to merge their wind farm and service businesses. Continue Reading…

Offshore Painting Services: Papertrail in the Wind Energy Industry

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Offshore Painting Services is a Liverpool-based weather protection and blade repair company for wind turbines and other structures situated in some of the most hostile environments on the planet. Continue Reading…