Geothermal Technician

South Africa’s coal reserves are estimated at 53 billion tonnes, providing 77% of its power generation. There is however increasing pressure, both domestic and globally to explore alternative energy sources for the country’s domestic and economic needs and meeting its sustainable growth requirements with minimal environmental impact. Geothermal power is produced using heat in the form of steam or hot water to produce electrical energy.

Geothermal technicians perform technical activities for the generation of power from geothermal energy sources. They install, test and maintain commercial geothermal heat pumps and monitor and take readings of the equipment, making necessary adjustments to increase performance and energy outputs. They are also responsible for inspecting machinery, making basic repairs and calling in more specialised technicians to address serious challenges. They can also provide reports and suggestions based on current performance of geothermal machinery.

Geothermal technicians work in small teams with other plant personnel. They mainly work outdoors in relatively harsh conditions and are required to always use protective clothing and equipment on site.

Skills

Geothermal technicians require solid technical knowledge of geothermal power production processes and a thorough understanding of health and safety regulations. They will additionally benefit from:

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

Tasks

Operate, inspect and maintain geothermal plant equipment

Test water sources for factors such as flow volume or contamination

Record operational and production data making needed adjustments

Troubleshoot equipment faults, contacting specialist contractors for support

Studies

B.Eng. in Electrical Engineering specialising in Energy systems at SU, UJ and UP

B.Sc.Eng in Electrical Engineering specialising in Power systems at UCT, UKZN and Wits

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

Geothermal 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

Geothermal power production manufacturers.

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