No Man Is An Island (Called Smøla)

Smøla sun rise

Hello blog fans, I’m Daniel Christophersen. I am half Norwegian and half Scottish but have spent most of my life living in Scotland. After studying Chemical Engineering with Management at the University of Edinburgh I applied to the Statkraft International Trainee Programme in order to work with renewable energy and also to move back to Norway. Now here I am and it is my privilege and pleasure to write the first blog post for the latest batch of trainees which will be about the week I spent on the island of Smøla.

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The next generation: Justina, Sara, Sondre, Agnethe, Tobias, Daniel, Gleimy, Laxman in September ‘14

I have begun my rotations by working in the Wind Power & Technologies division and although I have also been involved with work regarding Offshore Wind the focus has been on the Onshore side. This included a trip to Sweden in October to visit a few of the wind parks Statkraft have over there. During the trip we spent a few hours at each park which was great for getting an insight into the general scale and layout of such a site.

A month after this I was offered to do something slightly different. This was to spend a week on an island called Smøla off the west coast of Norway taking part in the daily work and routines of the maintenance team at the wind park there. It is Norway’s largest wind farm and visiting represented a great opportunity for understanding what really goes on there on a daily basis so I told my manager I’d go.

The original week I was offered to go I was already taking part in a gathering with the rest of the trainee team at the opera house in Oslo where through a couple of workshops about communication skills and cultural awareness we learned the secrets of Bill Clinton’s lying techniques and how Norwegians are cold people compared to the rest of the world, or something along those lines, in an insightful few days. Therefore the week I actually went to Smøla was the last week before the Christmas holidays began when the conditions at the site were set to be at their wintry best. I packed my bag (half PPE, half woolly socks) and flew to Kristansund from where I took a ferry over to the island. I was picked up there and taken to my hotel by the site manager who agreed to pick me up the next morning to go to work.

We were greeted that next morning by a blizzard bellowing snow and ice into the windscreen of the car as the site manger drove us through the darkness to the wind park. Upon arrival I was introduced to the rest of the team who really were a friendly and accommodating group and, despite my poor handyman skills, patient with me during the execution of the different tasks throughout the week. I was shown around the office and warehouse where I was explained the improvements and changes that had been made through the implementation of a lean operations system referred to as 5S. It was impressive to reflect upon the work done in such short time that has made Smøla a shining example to the other Statkraft wind parks.

By 11am the sun had finally risen for the first time since I arrived at the island and I was able to see some of the interesting and diverse scenery Smøla has to offer. As should be expected of an island the weather would change dramatically throughout the week offering everything from thunderstorms to snow storms to clear, sunny skies at which point I was able to see some spectacular sun rises.

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As a result of the weather the roads leading up to the wind park became pure ice which presented an interesting additional challenge for me driving for the first time on, what may be referred to in Norway as, the correct side of the road having previously driven solely in the UK.


Some of the turbines have one of their three blades painted black as part of research into methods of reducing collisions with sea eagles of which there are many who inhabit the island

The tasks I assisted (and when I use that word I have to emphasis that based on the efficiency of my actions that it is one I use loosely) the team with ranged from changing out fried capacitors to climbing up and down the turbine walls like Spider-Man using a “rope moped” in order to replace bolts and culminated with a trip right to the top of the turbine to have a view on the inside and also of the outside from up there. From this I gained an insight into the working environment of the turbine in terms of types of tasks and challenges while also learning more about the specific mechanics of operation that you wouldn’t get from simply reading about it in a PDF back in the office.

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As I got a lift back to the ferry on the Friday I got to see a bit more of the rest of the island in daylight as previously the sun was already setting at about 3pm when I left work. It really is beautiful and described by those who inhabit the island, and those from the office who have previously visited, as a “summer paradise:” I visited at the wrong time of year to witness such an observation so perhaps I will have to return someday to see it for myself.

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My next rotation is as of yet undecided but could be in the International Hydro power division. If this is the case then further adventures likely await me in my foray into the world of renewable energy. Now that I have got the ball rolling you can look forward to further entries from my fellow trainees. Until then as my colleague Alex Gleim always says “keep it green, keep it clean and keep it real” readers.

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