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TheRockies.Life Staff

Not Your Average 9-to-5: Repair Technician Follows The Wind To Alberta

Edan Blomme is training technicians in Alberta to meet the growing demands of the renewable energy sector

About one in 15 people are afraid of heights, but Edan Blomme isn’t one of them. 

Blomme is a Rope Access Blade Repair Technician with 12 years of experience under his toolbelt. 

He has travelled the world repairing wind turbines but is now paving the way for the future of blade repair technicians in Alberta.

Tied to the Wind

Blomme is originally from Toronto, but he found himself in London, England, after following a girlfriend. 

During his time in London, Blomme worked jobs that involved hanging from buildings to install things. But one cold, rainy morning in London would change Blomme’s life. 

A rope access blade repair technician working on a wind turbine suspended above the ocean
A rope access blade repair technician working on a wind turbine suspended above the ocean |

That fateful morning, one of Blomme’s colleagues boasted about the money they would make fixing wind turbines in Thailand. Sunny skies, warm weather, and lots of cash sounded perfect to Blomme. 

Suddenly, he imagined himself climbing to new heights in exotic locations, but it wasn’t as simple as boarding a plane. 

First, Blomme enrolled in a three-week blade repair course in Denmark. 

During a blade repair course, participants learn to perform and document a wind turbine blade inspection. They are also taught how to execute blade repair work while maintaining a wind turbine’s structure.

Knowing how to repair wind turbine blades is one thing, but having the guts to do the job is another. 

Blade repair technicians must climb up a wind turbine, which is the equivalent of a 20-storey building. They then throw ropes off the edge and rappel down to the blades, which span 100 feet. 

Blade repair technicians are responsible for inspecting, assessing, and repairing any damages. This includes cracks, fractures, and erosion. Many of us can barely walk across a bridge without losing coordination. Imagine carrying out complex repairs while dangling 200 feet above the ground! 

But there’s good money to be made as a Rope Access Blade Repair Technician. According to Talent, the average salary for the position in Canada is about $60,000 per year or almost $30 an hour. Experienced blade repair technicians like Blomme can make as much as $91,000 annually.

The Route to Alberta Winds 

Blomme claims plenty of opportunities exist because wind turbines need regular maintenance, just like cars. The blades are constantly exposed to high winds that cause wear and tear. Salt and sand carried by winds cause erosion, and lightning strikes can cause cracks in the blades. 

“It’s a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. I could work every single day of the year if I wanted to,” Blomme told CBC News.

Blomme never realized his dream of working in Thailand, but he did land jobs throughout the United Kingdom. The jobs included an offshore wind farm where Blomme had to take a boat to work every day. He also found work in Sweden and the United States, which had very few wind turbine technicians.

Rope access blade repair technicians working on roping techniques
One of Advanced Blade Repair Services’ training programs | EduMaritime

There might be job opportunities for wind repair technicians, but there aren’t many people in North America who are trained for the job, according to Blomme. 

While in Texas for work, Blomme recalls that many of the state’s wind turbines weren’t maintained or repaired at all. 

“You’d see fields of rotting wind farms…I thought, well, this is not sustainable,” he explained. 

He’s hoping to change that. 

Through his job, Blomme has found himself working in Alberta. 

He is putting together a group to help train, mentor, and advocate for renewable energy workers in Alberta. Blomme has also teamed up with Advance Blade Repair Services, a UK-based organization that specializes in training for those looking to work with wind turbines. 

The organization has offices in the United States and Asia. With the organization’s help, Blomme hopes to open Canada’s first blade repair school in Calgary. 

The ongoing renewable energy moratorium has paused all approvals for new renewable power projects in the province until the end of February 2024. 

Even so, Alberta was home to 900 wind turbines in 2020, the third most of any province in Canada. Moratorium or not, there is a need for blade repair technicians.

Companies across the province are looking for skilled workers like Blomme, including in Lethbridge and Pincher Creek. 

If we want to hit net-zero emissions worldwide by 2030, we need to double the speed at which we add renewables like wind turbines. 

Alberta can either ride the slipstream or get left behind. Blomme plans on staying caught up. 

By training skilled workers now, Blomme’s team will be ready to tackle the current and future needs of the renewable energy industry in Alberta.

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