The History Of Wind Generated Power
With the increased costs of energy derived from fossil fuels, many consumers are interested in alternative sources of energy. Unfortunately the market trend tells us that little to no relief in oil prices is in sight. A great source of power can be harnessed from the wind using electricity generating windmills. Below is a brief history of wind power, and how it came to be.
Wind power has been harnessed for many, many years. Nobody knows for sure when man started using the wind's power to grind flour or pump water, but it is thought that the first windmill appeared in the Persian region. From there this windmill technology spread back to northern Europe. Windmills crafted by the Dutch were used primarily to pump water.
Windmills were definitely not the first structures to harness the wind. This award belongs to the sailboat. More than likely, founded in small scale (small canoe with an animal skin as a sail) the sailboat became the only way to cross large areas of water. The sailboat evolved into large ships moving great distances by using only wind as a source of power.
Windmills on a smaller scale showed up in America in the mid 19th Century. The Aermotor and Dempster design were invented and many are still in use. From 1850 to 1970 more than 6,000,000 windmills were installed in the United States. The main application was pumping water for livestock and providing farm homes with a water supply.
In the late 19th Century, the first windmill to generate electricity was born! This was the Brush postmill in Cleveland Ohio, and the year was 1888! The rotor was approximately 17 meters in diameter. This windmill had a gearbox with a high spin ratio attached to a DC generator.
By the middle 1920's, several small scale systems were found across the Midwestern plains and used to supply farms with electricity. These systems generally had a 1 to 3 kilowatt output.
1941 saw the largest wind generator to date. This generator's capacity was 1.25 megawatts. It was known as the Smith-Putnam machine. The rotor measured an astonishing 175 feet in diameter.
Today, many wind turbines are in operation from small scale residential systems that are affordable to the homeowner to large scale wind turbine farms that are used to supply a large amount of electricity to utility customers.
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