Friday, February 5, 2010

Cold turbine won't spin? Change the oil!

Picture from today's New York Times.

The state of Minnesota bought some refurbished Techapi or Altamont turbines and placed them on some cold, cold sites.

Forgetting to switch the California-temp spec high SAE gear oil!


But this was fun for me because it beautifully underscores my key lesson, that government and business energy planners, however white collar, need to know enough about the technology they advocate and implement to avoid stupid and expensive mistakes. Which is one major goal of our Sustech degree: creating a businessperson or government planning wonk who knows enough about the equipment to order-up the switching out of the high weight gear oil in the turbines the government program installs!

Would one of our trainee Sustech-ers, a Heidi or a Cody or a Jamie, have known this?

Hopefully, yes, particularly after the full four years. And I'm collecting a portfolio of such errors to make up lessons with. This is a great addition! Thanks, Minnesota!

It's hard to know every little thing about every kind of tech, but we need to know a good bit about each kind, and we need to know how to do an exhaustive survey of requirements before we call up an expensive installation.

And then there's good old fashioned, surprisingly uncommon, common sense.

What do you say, guys?

It's nice to learn from other people's mistakes, isn't it. Much nicer than learning from your own.

Makes you wonder if the refurbishers really went through those gear boxes the way they should have, too, doesn't it? Do you think they did do so, and just made the more forgivable mistake of put new heavy oil back in when they were done, or do you think they didn't, perhaps lying about it to the purchasers, and this is just ancient Californian oil?

I'd love to know!

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