When Were Wind Turbines First Used?

Scotland is home to the world’s first wind turbine, which was developed to generate power. Prof James Blyth of Anderson’s College in Glasgow designed the wind turbine (now known as Strathclyde University). “Blyth’s ten-meter-high cloth-sailed wind turbine was put in the garden of his holiday cottage in Marykirk, Kincardineshire, and was used to charge accumulators designed by the Frenchman Camille Alphonse Faure to power the cottage’s lighting, making it the world’s first wind-powered home. Blyth offered the people of Marykirk the surplus energy to light the main street, but they declined because they believed electricity was “the work of the devil.”

When did wind turbines start to gain popularity?

Halladay and Burnham’s earliest windmills were nimble: their blades swiveled to react to the wind’s ever-changing speed and direction, all without the aid of humans. They swiftly gained popularity across the country, and by the nineteenth century, there were over a million of them scattered around the country.

However, it wasn’t until the 1970s that wind power became widely used. As oil prices began to rise, so did public interest in renewable energy sources. The government began to subsidize wind energy research and development, universities began to provide wind turbine operation courses, and a rising number of wind turbine manufacturers began to appear.

The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) was approved by Congress in 1978, and it is widely regarded as one of the most effective policies to stimulate the use of renewable energy. The act mandated that electric utilities connect to renewable energy production facilities, and it is credited with bringing on 12,000 megawatts of non-hydro renewable generation capacity.

The first utility-scale commercial wind farms were built in California in 1980, shortly after PURPA was passed.

The Energy Policy Act of 1992 was passed by the federal government in order to promote the commercialization of renewable energy and energy-efficient technology. The Act, among other things, established the Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit (PTC), a corporation tax credit for renewable energy sources such as (but not limited to) wind. Since its inception, the PTC has been extended and enlarged multiple times, and it is still in use today, along with many others at both the state and federal levels.

The United States Department of Energy produced the 20 percent by 2030 Report in 2008, claiming that it was possible to increase the country’s share of electricity generated by wind power to 20% by 2030. It made numerous suggestions for achieving this aim, including boosting wind manufacturing activities, improving transmission infrastructure, and expediting the process of turbine siting and permitting. The Department of Energy’s 2015 Wind Vision report expanded on the 2008 edition, claiming that by taking comparable steps, 35 percent wind energy may be achieved by 2050.

When did the first wind farm get started?

The world’s first wind farm, which was erected on the shoulder of Crotched Mountain in southern New Hampshire in December 1980, had a capacity of 0.6 MW and was powered by 20 wind turbines rated at 30 kilowatts apiece.

In hilly or mountainous areas, onshore turbines are typically located on hills three kilometers or more inland from the nearest shoreline. This is done to take advantage of the topographic acceleration that occurs as the wind speeds up as it passes over a ridge. Because more wind passes through the turbines, the increased wind speeds can increase the amount of energy produced. Because a difference of 30 meters can potentially double output, the correct location of each turbine is critical. Micro-siting is the term for this meticulous placing.

When and where did the first windmills get their start?

A Persian millwright in 644 and windmills in Seistan, Persia, in 915 are the earliest documented references to windmills.

Who was the first to invent wind turbines?

Thanks to Charles F. Brush (1849-1929), an American scientist who created the first automatic wind turbine to generate power in 1887, wind turbines are now erected all over the world, both onshore and offshore. Poul la Cour (1846-1908), a Danish scientist, improved the wind turbine in 1899 when he realized that using a modest number of rotor blades produced better results and boosted electricity production. His design is regarded as the first modern wind turbine.

However, in the creation of power utilizing turbines, it is not simply technology that is vital; a theoretical underpinning is also required for any invention. In the instance of wind power, German physicist Albert Betz (1885-1968) established Betz’s Law in 1919, stating that a wind turbine may convert up to 59 percent of kinetic energy into mechanical energy. His theory is being utilized to construct wind turbines today.

Although the main development of wind power occurred in Denmark, where a decentralized model for the country’s electricity was built, the first turbine capable of producing more than 1 MW of power was not placed until 1941. (specifically 1.25 MW).

Which country was the first to exploit wind energy?

Prof James Blyth of Anderson’s College, Glasgow, created the first wind turbine for the production of electricity in Scotland in July 1887. (the precursor of Strathclyde University). Blyth’s ten-meter-high cloth-sailed wind turbine was put in the grounds of his holiday cottage in Marykirk, Kincardineshire, and was used to charge accumulators designed by the Frenchman Camille Alphonse Faure to power the cottage’s lighting, making it the world’s first wind-powered home. Blyth offered the inhabitants of Marykirk the surplus energy to illuminate the main street, but they declined because they believed electricity was “the work of the devil.” Although he later built a wind turbine to provide emergency electricity to Montrose’s Lunatic Asylum, Infirmary, and Dispensary, the innovation was never widely adopted since the technique was not considered economically viable.

Across the Atlantic, in Cleveland, Ohio, Charles F. Brush designed and built a larger and more carefully engineered machine between 1887 and 18888, which was built by his engineering firm at his home and ran from 1888 until 1900. The Brush wind turbine featured a rotor that was 17 meters (56 feet) in diameter and was set on a tower that measured 18 meters (60 feet). The machine, despite its size by today’s standards, was only rated at 12 kW and rotated slowly due to its 144 blades. Brush’s laboratory used the attached dynamo to charge a bank of batteries or to power up to 100 incandescent light bulbs, three arc lamps, and other motors. After electricity became accessible from Cleveland’s central stations in 1900, the machine went out of favor and was eventually abandoned in 1908.

Poul la Cour, a Danish physicist, built a wind turbine in 1891 to create electricity, which was used to electrolyze hydrogen and store it for use in experiments and to illuminate the Askov Folk High School. Later, he invented the Kratostate regulator to tackle the difficulty of producing a constant flow of power, and in 1895, he converted his windmill into a prototype electrical power plant that was used to light the village of Askov.

By 1900, Denmark had over 2,500 windmills, which were employed for mechanical loads like pumps and mills and produced a combined peak power of roughly 30 MW.

Between 1850 and 1900, a vast number of small windmills, probably six million, were built on farms in the American Midwest to power irrigation pumps.

In North and South America, companies including Star, Eclipse, Fairbanks-Morse, and Aeromotor were well-known providers.

When was the first wind-generated electricity sold to the general public?

One of the fastest-growing renewable energy technologies is wind power. Globally, usage is increasing, partly due to lower costs. According to IRENA’s latest data, global installed wind-generation capacity onshore and offshore has expanded by about 75 times in the last two decades, from 7.5 gigawatts (GW) in 1997 to 564 GW in 2018. Wind energy production more than doubled between 2009 and 2013, accounting for 16 percent of all renewable energy generation in 2016. Wind speeds are significant in many places of the world, but the ideal spots for generating wind power are often remote. Offshore wind power has a lot of promise.

Wind turbines have been around for over a century. Engineers began attempting to harness wind energy to make electricity after the advent of the electric generator in the 1830s. In 1887 and 1888, wind power was generated in the United Kingdom and the United States, but modern wind power is thought to have been invented in Denmark, where horizontal-axis wind turbines were erected in 1891 and a 22.8-meter wind turbine was put into service in 1897.

The kinetic energy created by moving air is used to generate electricity in the wind. Wind turbines or wind energy conversion systems convert this into electrical energy. The blades of a turbine are initially impacted by the wind, which causes them to revolve and turn the turbine connected to them. By turning a shaft attached to a generator and so producing electrical energy through electromagnetic, kinetic energy is converted to rotational energy.

The size of the turbine and the length of its blades determine the quantity of power that can be harvested from wind. The output is proportional to the rotor’s size and the wind speed’s cube. Wind power potential increases by a factor of eight when wind speed doubles, according to theory.

The capacity of wind turbines has grown over time. In 1985, average turbines had a rotor diameter of 15 meters and a rated capacity of 0.05 megawatts (MW). Onshore turbine sizes of roughly 2 MW and offshore turbine capacities of 35 MW are available in today’s new wind power projects.

Wind turbines with rotor diameters of up to 164 meters are now commercially available, with capacities of up to 8 MW. Wind turbines’ average capacity climbed from 1.6 MW in 2009 to 2 MW in 2014.

In the 1800s, how did windmills work?

Windmills were first employed to assist grind grain several centuries ago, and they were still doing so in the 1800s. Sails were attached to a vertical shaft, which was connected to a grinding stone, and the grain was processed as the sails rotated the stone.

What were the functions of antique windmills?

The Great Plains were thought to be unsuitable for farming in the 18th century. The “Great American Desert” was given to the region. Droughts would occur after wet spells, as the sun and wind dried out surface moisture.

Early inhabitants on the Plains struggled to get enough water for basic necessities, let alone plant crops or water livestock. The majority of the water was underground, often more than 300 feet below ground level.

On the American Plains, windmills from Europe were impracticable. Their textile sails had to be furled by hand, and they were huge, expensive, and required continual upkeep.

American-Style Windmills

Daniel Halladay invented the American-style windmill in 1854. It was smaller, less expensive, and easier to ship and construct. Its sails were held into the wind by a weight that rose slowly to limit the sail area when the wind was too strong. Smaller hardwood blades quickly replaced traditional cloth-covered sails.

For inhabitants on the plains, these new windmills were excellent. They were able to consistently pump water from considerable depths. They were able to move into the prevailing breezes and performed admirably in both rapid and sluggish winds. Furthermore, compared to European windmills, they required little upkeep.

Self-contained water pump windmills quickly became a common sight on the plains. Because they could drill wells and pump water, homesteaders, farmers, and ranchers were no longer reliant on natural water. Windmills were frequently among the most valued assets of homesteaders. Windmill-pumped water was used to cook, bathe, drink, water crops and livestock, and wash clothes, among other things. These mills were straightforward, well-built, and dependable.

Another key customer was railroads. Steam locomotives were required to be watered on a regular basis. Windmills were built every twenty miles on the first transcontinental railroad to pump water for the trains.

Knowing that windmills might provide water aided in the hastening of western migration. Ranchers could increase their herds, farmers could plant more crops, and railways could pump water into storage tanks along their routes. Because of the abundance of water, the Great Plains became the nation’s breadbasket.

Windmill Innovations

Hundreds of companies were manufacturing windmills during the 1870s and 1880s. The majority of these businesses were based on the Great Plains’ eastern fringe or in the Midwest.

In the mid- to late-nineteenth century, wooden solid-wheel windmills were commonly constructed. They have a strong wooden wheel that controls the speed of the windmill by adjusting the tilt of the entire head. For best effectiveness in slow breezes, the wheel points into the wind. The wheel advances toward the vane in high winds to reduce surface area and prevent damage.

Vaneless windmills were becoming increasingly common in the central Great Plains by the 1880s. Individually hinged components of these windmills may pivot in and out of the wind. As the wind speed changed, they were able to adjust the speed of the mills. Their wheel spun downstream because they didn’t have any vanes or tails to direct them towards the wind.

Metal windmills were not prevalent until the 1890s, when the first successful all-metal windmill was marketed. The curved blades of metal windmills allowed them to capture more wind than flat wooden blades. Instead of a direct-stroke mechanism, steel mill designs frequently featured open back-gears. Metal mills were able to out-pump many timber mills because to these developments.

Every wheel revolution, direct-stroke mills pumped water. Back-geared mills require roughly three revolutions every pumping cycle, but they are more efficient in light winds. A back-geared mill’s wheel spins swiftly, whereas a direct-stroke mill’s wheel must spin slowly to build up the force needed to pump water.

In the 1920s, self-oiling mills became widespread. These windmills included an enclosed gearbox with an oil bath that lubricated the mill’s moving parts as it rotated. As a result, these mills required very little maintenance. Once a year, they merely needed cleaning and new oil. As companies began to develop self-oiling mills, older steel ones were frequently phased out.

Windmills became iconic on the Great Plains over time. Tall windmills were often the most visible indicators of civilisation on the flat plains. Many individuals who grew up on the plains remember windmills fondly, from refreshing drinks after a day in the field to learning to swim in cattle tanks.

Decline of Windmill Manufacturing

Following World War I, the windmill industry suffered a setback. The cost of electricity and gasoline has decreased, but the cost of agricultural commodities has decreased. People were unable to purchase new windmills, but there were cheaper options. During the 1930s, the general economic crisis exacerbated the situation for windmill makers.

More farms were able to have power thanks to the 1935 Rural Electrification Act. They could now operate electricity-powered pumps with electricity. The windmill market was nearly extinguished due to falling demand.

Most windmills were sold to developing countries throughout the world or to three specific cattle ranching regions of the Plains by the 1960s. Western Nebraska’s sandhills, Oklahoma and Texas’ panhandle, and southern Texas were among these locations. Stringing electric wires for stock tanks in these remote places proved inefficient.

People gained interested in windmills again in the 1970s when energy prices skyrocketed. At the time, there were only three windmill manufacturers left: Aermotor, Baker, and Dempster. Each of these enterprises went from generating a few hundred to several thousand windmills each year.

Wind power became a commercial source of electricity in the 1980s after much research. Water-pumping windmills were relegated to a niche industry as wind turbines became the new face of wind energy.

Water pumping windmills are still employed on rural ranches and small farms today.

A History of Dempster Windmills is a good place to start if you want to learn more about one firm that made windmills.