Daniel Walsh

Daniel Walsh

Job Title

Wind Analyst/Engineer

Who do you work for?

I work for Pacific Hydro, a company that develops, builds and operates renewable energy projects. It has established more than 2500 MW of hydroelectric and wind farm projects at varying stages of development, construction and operation across Australia, the Asia-Pacific and Latin America.

What does your job involve?

As a wind engineer, I determine the wind resource of a site, design the wind farm layout and predict the energy output, which is used to determine whether the site is suitable for development. This also involves noise and visual assessments.

Why did you choose to work in the renewable energy industry?

I decided to go into this career while studying at university. I discovered that renewable energy was very interesting and important, and therefore a fantastic industry in which to work. My lecturer in the wind energy elective in final year opened my eyes to these possibilities. Once I graduated, I pursued wind energy companies across the world until I got a job in Melbourne.

What has been one of your greatest achievements?

One of my greatest achievements is working on wind farm projects right throughout their development and then their operation. I was involved in the installation of meteorological masts to test the wind resource at the project sites, then in deciding the best positions for the wind generators and testing them after they were built. After years of work, it’s great to see the giant blades spinning!

What do you enjoy most about your job?

It is exciting to be part of a growing and important company and industry and to be involved with such an amazing and beautiful technology.  It’s great to work in an industry that I believe in and that attracts many enthusiastic, clever and interesting people from all over the world. It is satisfying to know that my work plays an important role in a clean energy revolution.

What do you hope to do in the future?

My position has evolved from managing the installation of meteorological masts and their data, to be trained as a wind engineer. Not only is my position dynamic, but also our methods, software and solutions are continually evolving.  With increasing control of greenhouse emissions, I hope to stay with renewable energy – maybe one day in a different aspect of the wind industry or working with a technology that no one has heard of yet!

What are some of the benefits of your job?

It is refreshing to work in both an office in the CBD (Central Business District) of a city as well as occasionally going on-site around the country. Since most of the expertise in wind energy is in Europe and the US, there also are opportunities to travel to these regions for training and conferences.

What training did you have for this job?

In Year 10, because I was interested in how things work, I decided that I wanted to study mechanical engineering at university.  I therefore chose maths and science subjects to facilitate this.

In my senior years at high school, my subjects included two advanced maths subjects, physics and chemistry.  I then went to the University of Melbourne to study Mechanical and Manufacturing Engineering and later moved into the Environmental Stream of this course.

What is your advice to students?

Choose your subjects carefully based on what you enjoy and, importantly, to facilitate the career you want, though it is not always easy to choose a career when you are still at school!

After choosing it, I found that studying mechanical engineering was actually not as appealing as it first sounded. However, I stuck at it and then started to enjoy it in my final years when I found I could take electives in renewable energy. Each person has their own path – it’s just a matter of getting onto it.

Many of those in the technical side of renewable energy industry have indeed come from engineering or science backgrounds, but with very few dedicated courses in this area, you may need to steer your course in the direction you want. For example, find electives in renewable energy to tailor your degree, and take on relevant research projects or, if possible, internships and vacation work with renewable energy companies.

The jobs of tomorrow don’t even exist today. My company didn’t exist when I started high school, and my role in the company didn’t exist until I took it on. Who knows what exciting technologies and industries will exist when you finish studying!