Alpine wind farm lights up mountainous region in winter

Erich Enikl works in the Moschkogel alpine wind farm in Styria, Austria in turbine maintenance. Today, as part of the Global Wind Day “wind energy stories” series, he tells us about his passion for wind energy.

When did you first become passionate about wind energy?

My first encounter with a – very small – wind turbine was in 1988, but it wasn’t until 2005/6 that, with the installation of the wind farm on the Moschkogel mountain, wind energy took off for me. I did not miss a single step of the installation – from road building, to the production of the foundations, to the cabling. The fascination for me was how much one could achieve with these big turbines with sophisticated technology. The wind park is situated at an altitude of 1,500 metres in the mountains and is accessible only by very steep roads. The five Enercon turbines were installed in May and June 2006. After an incredibly long and hard winter, I needed four days to move the metre high snow from the roads. The technician then managed in a relatively short time to adjust the turbines to these extreme conditions.

How much sense does a wind park make in the mountains?

We are producing energy mainly in the winter months, when consumption is high. Heating, illuminating flats and towns, the operation of lifts for snow machines – all of this needs electricity. These few turbines can provide the entire yearly energy needs of the local system operator.

Was the natural environment affected by the wind farm?

No tree clearance on a big scale was necessary. For access, only the existing forest road had to be widened. The cable lines in the road area and through the forest didn’t require any forest clearance. On the foundations the size of one family house now we have a wind farm supplying more than 1,000 households. The wild forest animals scared away by the construction activities returned after a short time. The fear that grouse could be harmed has not come true. And because we keep the access road and the wind farm snow-free, it has even become a paradise for mountain hares.

Do you have requests for policy makers?

We need transparency on electricity bills! That would be really welcome, because if they accounted for additional costs of fossil fuels and nuclear – like CO2 emissions, the damages resulting from nuclear accidents and the unsolved problems of the final disposal of nuclear waste – we would finally see the truth about costs. Then, what is currently thought of as cheaper energy would finally and correctly be displayed as the most expensive one for the consumer.

Do you want to send a message to our readers?

If you produce your energy with a photovoltaic system or a small wind turbine or if you drive with an electric car, your energy bill will drop. It doesn’t mean a loss of prosperity.

Is your job in turbine maintenance your first one in the wind energy field?

Yes. As a trained car electrician I was originally working in the construction and the public transport sector. I chose this job because I am convinced about renewable energy.


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By Zoë Casey,