Biomass Plant Technicians

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Also known as:
Hydroelectric Plant Operator, Power Plant Control Room Operator, Powerhouse Operator, Turbine Room Attendant

Video transcript

The development of alternative energy production relies on a backbone of technicians to operate energy generation systems and equipment. Alternative energy plant and system technicians operate machinery such as valves, pumps, and generators to produce energy. They monitor gauges and meters to ensure safe, efficient production, and adjust equipment as needed. They also inspect equipment, and perform maintenance and repairs. These technicians work with a variety of fuel sources: Corn, sugarcane, soybeans and other plants are used to produce biofuels. Technicians operate centrifuges and other equipment to produce biofuels at a steady rate of production; they later lab-test fuel to ensure quality and consistency. Methane gas is collected from landfills, where it rises from solid waste decomposing in municipal stations. Technicians monitor the environment, maintain pumps and blower systems, and troubleshoot problems that occur as gases are captured, converted, and used as a renewable energy resource. Woody materials and animal manure are the primary sources of biomass that technicians convert into energy. They adjust energy production, and record readings on meters and gauges. At hydropower stations, the force of water released from a dam turns the blades of a turbine, generating electricity. Technicians keep generators and other equipment functioning properly. Jobs in these fields usually require a high school diploma, although hydroelectric plant technicians may need related technical training or an associate's degree.

Control and monitor biomass plant activities and perform maintenance as needed.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Calibrate liquid flow devices or meters, including fuel, chemical, and water meters.

Calculate, measure, load, or mix biomass feedstock for power generation.

Read and interpret instruction manuals or technical drawings related to biomass-fueled power or biofuels production equipment or processes.

Assess quality of biomass feedstock.

Operate heavy equipment, such as bulldozers and front-end loaders.

Perform routine maintenance or make minor repairs to mechanical, electrical, or electronic equipment in biomass plants.

Operate high-pressure steam boiler or water chiller equipment for electrical cogeneration operations.

Inspect biomass power plant or processing equipment, recording or reporting damage and mechanical problems.

Perform tests of water chemistry in boilers.

Operate equipment to start, stop, or regulate biomass-fueled generators, generator units, boilers, engines, or auxiliary systems.

Measure and monitor raw biomass feedstock, including wood, waste, or refuse materials.

Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Documenting/Recording Information Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Chemistry Knowledge of the chemical composition, structure, and properties of substances and of the chemical processes and transformations that they undergo. This includes uses of chemicals and their interactions, danger signs, production techniques, and disposal methods.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Production and Processing Knowledge of raw materials, production processes, quality control, costs, and other techniques for maximizing the effective manufacture and distribution of goods.
Engineering and Technology Knowledge of the practical application of engineering science and technology. This includes applying principles, techniques, procedures, and equipment to the design and production of various goods and services.
Education and Training Knowledge of principles and methods for curriculum and training design, teaching and instruction for individuals and groups, and the measurement of training effects.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Judgment and Decision Making Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Active Learning Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.