Biomass Plant Technician

South Africa’s energy provision is dominated by large-scale coal operations. Moving toward cleaner and sufficient energy provision to meet the country’s domestic and economic needs, requires the exploration of innovative, alternative energy sources such as biomass, for example. Operating within a biomass plant involves working with varied plant matter that can be used directly or converted into biofuel for power generation.

Biomass plant technicians provide technical support and services in the installation and operation of biomass power plant processes, systems, facilities and equipment. They control and adjust the production of biofuels and perform routine maintenance to the mechanical and electrical equipment used. They also calculate and load biomass feedstock, maintain records and report on the quality and quantity of daily production.

Biomass plant technicians typically work in small teams with other plant personnel, working between the plant site and an office to complete reports. They work under relatively dangerous conditions and are required to wear protective clothing and equipment.

Skills

Biomass plant technicians require good technical knowledge of biomass properties, mechanical and production processes as well as a thorough understanding of plant safety and regulations. They will additionally benefit from:

  • Machine and mechanical operating capability
  • Good problem-solving and analytical thinking ability
  • Strong organisational competence
  • Written and verbal communication skills

Tasks

Operate, inspect, maintain and repair biomass processing equipment

Calculate, measure, load, mix and process varied biomass materials

Record operational and production data 

Troubleshoot equipment faults and contacting specialist contractors for support

Studies

Diploma, Advanced Diploma, M.Tech in Electrical Engineering specialising in Process Control at CPUT, MUT, VUT and WSU

Biomass plant technicians can also benefit from a National Certificate in Fossil Power Plant Operations at National Qualifications Framework Level 1 to 4 at TECHNISA, accredited by the Energy and Water Sector Education and Training Authority. However, most training takes place on the job with mentoring by experienced operators. 

Employers

Biomass power production plants.

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