Subsea engineers prove indispensable in the desert.

For two Wood Group engineers based in London, the company’s more unified structure has seen their careers take a path they probably never expected. Seconded to Specialist Technical Solutions’ clean energy business at the start of 2017, Evangelos Alexakis and Charlie O’Toole have travelled across the globe to support the Tsetsii Wind Farm development in Mongolia.

Located in the southern Gobi Desert, 500km south of the Mongolian capital Ulaanbaatar, the 50MW wind farm site comprises approximately 72km of remote, open desert and an isolated mountain location. The Mongolian weather is so extreme that the site closes over the winter months when temperatures drop to -25°C, while in the summer the site bakes in up to 40°C.

Our clean energy business has been involved in wind farm developments in Mongolia since 2010; when they supported the development and construction of Mongolia’s very first, and so far only, wind farm. We have supported the Tsetsii Wind Farm project as owner’s engineer through the feasibility and pre-construction phases, and now in the construction phase are providing project management support, site monitoring, and technical reviews. It was not until this project that Wood Group engineers from out with clean energy have provided support. Employees from the US, Germany, China and Hong Kong have also been involved.

Before travelling to Mongolia, Evangelos and Charlie were embedded into the clean energy team in Glasgow, gaining as much renewables exposure as possible and increasing their knowledge by working on different sites in the UK. Clean energy colleagues worked alongside them, providing general guidance and accompanying them to key stage visits such as pouring the concrete for wind turbine generator foundations.   

Evangelos, a structural engineer, says: “I am able to apply my knowledge and skills in a wide variety of renewable energy technologies, some already established and some cutting edge, which gives me the opportunity to develop individually and as part of a team.

“Engineering in the renewable sector is very enjoyable and rewarding - the multidisciplinary nature of the industry, the wide application of engineering and management practices throughout the project, the exposure to the latest technologies, strategies and best-practices, and needless to say the satisfaction of helping to reduce carbon emissions. It has been an exciting upwards career journey.”

Civil engineer, Charlie, says: “In terms of skills, transitioning to the renewable sector has been comparatively straightforward. There are a lot of similarities between traditional energy and power projects, and renewable projects and technology. Many of the technical and managerial needs of the renewable sector are similar to those in traditional energy and power industries. Personally, I have been very proud to work with my clean energy colleagues, my knowledge has increased and the opportunity to work within another great team of problem solvers has been an excellent experience.”

Brian Macdonald, clean energy implementation team leader adds: “It’s extremely useful to have these colleagues on board, not just for the Tsetsii Wind Farm project, but in a number of other projects. Being able to access resource from across Wood Group has been a big advantage and any lack of specific renewable energy experience is outweighed by their general capability, willingness to learn and positive attitude. We would like Charles and Evangelos to stay with us in clean energy to use the knowledge and experience they have gained in Mongolia on other similar projects. There are opportunities for them all over the world.”