Why would Guernsey Electricity need Mechanical Engineers? | Guernsey Electricity

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Why would Guernsey Electricity need Mechanical Engineers?

Keeping power flowing isn’t just for Electrical Engineers. Here our Mechanical Engineering Lead, Chris Ayres, sheds some much-needed light on the critical role he and his team play in maintaining our busy modern lives.

There’s a huge amount of machinery needed to keep power flowing, even on a small island like Guernsey. So it's up to our mechanical team to make sure there’s enough mechanically fit generators for our ‘Operations’ team to run to meet electricity demand.

How does your job help keep our island running?

Power station mechanical engineers repair and maintain the engines used to generate electricity, along with all their supporting systems including pumps and compressors. 

“As the Mechanical Engineering Lead, I manage a team of over 10 people. I plan and oversee the maintenance and repair of our power station's mechanical systems, including 2000-tonnes worth of electricity generators and various sub-systems for heating, cooling, and fuel handling. Additionally, we also take care of the compressed air, lubrication systems and steam pipework, to name just a few.

There’s a huge amount of machinery needed to keep power flowing, even on a small island like Guernsey. So it's up to us to make sure there’s enough mechanically fit generators for our ‘Operations’ team to run to meet electricity demand.

See our work

Since demand is at its lowest during spring/summer, we use this time to complete more in-depth maintenance tasks across the generating plant.

If you’d like to see some of our work in action, take a look at this timelapse demonstrating the ‘strip-down’ of our electricity generator ‘4C’ during Spring 2024. 

Just like in a car, certain elements of the engine need servicing and maintaining to ensure reliability. For us, the timing of this work is based on hours run, rather than miles.

Here you’ll see us removing all nine of 4C’s cylinder heads to regrind the exhaust valves. We also removed both turbos for cleaning and balancing, repaired exhaust leaks, checked bearing clearances, fixed fuel leaks, as well as addressing faults with supporting systems.  Finally, we gave the engine a good clean”.

Watch our generator strip-down 

4c generator strip down

In a nutshell, what does a mechanical engineer at Guernsey Electricity do?

Day-to-day, you’ve probably come across vehicle mechanics. They will inspect and maintain every part of a car’s engine, transmission and brakes to make sure people can get from A to B uninterrupted.  

“Scale this up to a power station and you’ll find our mechanical engineers overseeing 2000-tonnes worth of electricity generators, pumps, compressors, and all the other machinery needed to enjoy uninterrupted power supply.”

Mechanical engineering in Guernsey

What are you specifically responsible for?

“As the Mechanical Engineering Lead, I head up teams that maintain the mechanical machinery that helps power our island.

We’re responsible for repairing and maintaining physical components such as generators, compressors and pumps, and to do this we use our knowledge and experience of subjects such as thermodynamics, fluid mechanics and material science.

This is different to our electrical engineers who focus on the electrical infrastructure, generators, transformers and associated systems.

Before working here, I was an Army Officer within the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) where I oversaw the repair, maintenance, logistic support and procurement of a wide variety of the British Army’s equipment. Now at Guernsey Electricity, I’ve found the military skills and ethos of discipline, precision and planning equally apply in my role as Mechanical Engineering Lead.”

In May 2024, we even featured Guernsey in the ex-forces magazine Pathfinder International as part of the D Day 80th Anniversary special

Find us on page 34 

Pathfinder Magazine with Guernsey feature

Can you tell us something about your work that few people know about?

“Some parts of our island’s generation equipment are working beyond their “original design life”, which provides an interesting challenge for me and my mechanical team.”

What do you like best about your role?

There’s an obvious challenge in keeping a wide variety of mechanical equipment - all at different lifecycle stages - working together effectively to meet modern-day electricity demands. So being part of a close-knit, motivated team really does help. 

“I find the smaller-scale engineering in Guernsey really satisfying. It means I can be more personally involved in identifying and solving engineering problems, then get to see those solutions working in practice. Plus, I really like the people I get to work with.”

See our engineering jobs

What qualifications or experience do you need to become a mechanical engineer

“I completed a mechanical engineering degree, but that isn’t always necessary to get started.

Guernsey Electricity often take on mechanical apprentices and have roles for mechanical engineers for HNC’s and HND’s.”

Contact us about apprenticeships 

Mechanical apprenticeships in Guernsey

Do you work alone or as part of a team?

“As Guernsey’s power station is a lot bigger than most people realise, I must work as part of a large team.

I lead the maintenance of all physical machinery within the power station to help keep Guernsey in power 24/7 and work closely with others when we ‘hand over’ the machinery.

For example, when the mechanical team need to overhaul generators, repair pumps, or replace worn-out components, we coordinate with our Operations team who provide safe access to the relevant machinery and coordinate shutdowns or maintenance windows to ensure Guernsey’s power is uninterrupted.

Once the work is complete, we conduct testing and my mechanical team will support the operations team to run machinery safely and efficiently when it is handed back over.

What advice would you give someone interested in becoming a mechanical engineer?

If you’re interested in how things work and like to take things apart, mechanical engineering could be for you.  

“It depends which level you want to enter at as this will decide the level and type of specific training you need. But a good grasp of maths and physics, plus a practical mindset and being good with tools will help.”

There are also various engineering opportunities in Guernsey for ex-military resettlement.

“I came to Guernsey Electricity after 20-years in the army to help provide stability for my family because of Guernsey’s safe and friendly atmosphere, small schools and great outdoor space.”

Chris Ayres Mechanical Engineer Guernsey Electricity

Work with us 

What do you think are the best benefits GEL offers?

“The flexible working hours means I can organise my work time to benefit my family.”

What's it like working for us?

We've interviewed some of our people to help give islanders an idea of everything they do to help keep our island running.

Go behind the lights 


Interested in becoming part of the team?

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