Power production plant operators operate, monitor and maintain switchboards and related equipment in electrical control centres which control the production and distribution of electrical or other power in transmission networks.
The equipment operated includes reactors, turbines, generators and other auxiliary equipment in electrical power-generating stations (ILO, 2018).

RISK PROBABILITY BASED ON THE SEMINAL FREY AND OSBORNE STUDY

PROFESSIONAL GROUP CHARACTERISTICS AND SIMILAR OCCUPATIONS

Process Control Technicians

Process control technicians operate and monitor switchboards, computerized control systems and multi-function process control machinery; and maintain processing units in electrical power generation and distribution, wastewater, sewage treatment and waste disposal plants, chemical, petroleum and natural gas refineries, in metal processing and other multiple process operations (ILO, 2018).

  • Power Production Plant Operators
  • Incinerator and Water Treatment Plant Operators
  • Chemical Processing Plant Controllers
  • Petroleum and Natural Gas Refining Plant Operators
  • Metal Production Process Controllers
  • Process Control Technicians Not Elsewhere Classified
  • Electric power plant operator
  • Hydroelectric power plant operator
  • Nuclear power plant operator
  • Power system operator
  • Solar power plant operator

Background Information

As power operators retire, the workforce has shifted towards other professions thus creating a continuous lack of skilled personnel. Concurrently, businesses have utilized technologies that provide automated operational and efficiency solutions as well as integrated condition monitoring, management and data analysers. The rise of subcontractors has also allowed companies to discard in-house maintenance personnel to outside companies (Larson, 2015). Shifting from coal based to gas based power plants has also shifted the requirements for employment in the energy production sector (Wagman , 2017), «…Nordman said that 10 to 15 years ago, a common estimate was that one person was needed for each MW at its facilities, but not anymore. Now it is far fewer…» (Bradsher, 2017)(Gold, 2018).

Finally, the biggest challenge is the wide adoption of renewable technologies that are more dispersed and fragmented than centralized power plant systems and are consequently more labour intensive, although creation of massive power plants and automation means than operators job growth will be stable or even diminish (Bureau of Labor Statistics , 2018)

CASE EXAMPLES


One of the largest solar power plant in the world is the facility of Kamuthi, Tamil Nadu, which has a capacity of 648 Megawatts and it has a sophisticated robot system that cleans the solar panels every day to keep it continually at peak efficiency (Al Jazeera, 2016)

Solar Thermal Plants
The largest solar thermal plant in the world is the national solar program in Morocco, also called NOOR (light in Arabic). This plant is planned to reach 2000 Megawatts by 2020. While occupations during construction abounded (ranging from about 2000 to 4000 workers during peak construction) with a permanent staff being able to be interchanged between the facilities, to reduce expenses (Noor II and Noor III eye cost savings from site integration, 2016).

IoT and Automation
New IoT monitoring and managing technologies has allowed companies to replace coal power plants with bigger gas operated ones. The new technologies allow for a great reduction in operators, in one case “…it will replace three existing coal-fired units that currently employ more than 500 people. Job openings at the new gas-fired plant? Thirty-five full-time employee…“(Wagman , 2017).

Categories: Skill Level 3