Solar Power Plant Technician

While coal still dominates the South African energy mix, renewable energy is increasingly being explored such as solar energy, which currently contributes 558 MW to the national grid. As a signatory to the Paris Agreement, South Africa has to shift from high carbon coal emitting towards renewable energy, to reduce carbon emissions and support measures to address climate change. The efficient and effective operation of solar power plants will contribute to this shift and enable increasing use of renewable, solar powered energy.

Solar power plant technicians provide technical support and services in the installation, operation and maintenance of solar power plant processes, systems, facilities and equipment. They startup and operate power generating systems such as turbines and generators, making adjustments when needed and monitor electrical, mechanical and electronic equipment to ensure optimal performance. They also keep operational logs and reports and perform preventative maintenance and repairs in cases where deterioration or failure has occurred.

Solar power plant technicians work alongside supervisors and other plant personnel to assess equipment operating systems. They carry out numerous inspections of the power plant throughout the day and may be exposed to hazardous equipment and situations.

Skills

Solar power plant technicians need a technical knowledge of the generation and production of solar energy and understand plant health and safety regulations, coupled with:

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

Tasks

Operate and control power generating systems and equipment

Monitor equipment performance, taking corrective action if needed

Maintain station records, logs and reports

Clean, maintain and perform repairs on power plant equipment

Studies

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

Solar power plant technicians can also benefit from a National Certificate in Electrical Engineering at National Qualifications Framework Level 2 to 4 at most Technical and Vocational Education and Training Colleges. However, most training takes place on the job with mentoring by an experienced technician.

Employers

Public power utilities.

Private solar power companies.

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