Wind Power History

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Wind StationThe use of wind dates back to thousand years ago where windmills and wind turbines were first used. It is believed that the use of wind power originated from Persia, china, Tibet, India and Afghanistan. In Persia, the windmills which were driven by vertical wind turbines were used for pumping water and grinding of grain crops.  However there is uncertainty as china is also believed to have developed the similar wind mills at an earlier stage before Persia (Andrews & Jelley, 2007).  The wind mills in Afghanistan were also the same but were complimented by use of cloth sails or reed matting to harness more wind and they were used to grind corn and sugarcane and also to pump water.  There is also evidence that Egyptians used wind power to sail their ships across river Nile before wind power technology was introduced in Persia. Wind power use then spread to other regions in Europe where the Dutch developed the horizontal axis windmills which they used for grinding grains and draining lakes and marshes in the Rhine River.  The use of wind power then intensified in Europe and countries like Denmark and United states started to use wind power to pump water (Andersen, 2007).

Professor James Blyth from Scotland built the first windmill for energy production in 1887 and this was followed by another one in the United States in 1888 by Charles Brush from Cleveland, Ohio who built a large turbine for electricity generation. The Brush windmill was operational for over twenty years but had the shortcomings of low speed and the firmness of the rotor and hence did not allow maximum electricity generation. In 1891 Poul La Cour from Denmark developed a more improved windmill which in addition to decreased firmness of the rotor, it was able to electrolyze the water and store the oxygen and hydrogen that was formed during the process. By 20th century, the use of wind power intensified across Europe, and Russia was able to built the first utility wind turbine using the 100 kW Balaclava generator which operated for nearly two years along the Caspian Sea. Electricity generation by use of wind power increased and many countries namely United States, Denmark, France, Germany and Great Britain increased research with the view of improving the existing wind turbines. The use of wind power however decreased in early 1930s with the introduction of fossil fuels which were now being used on wider scale. The situation changed when the oil shortage of the 1970s created more opportunity for alternative energy sources and again wind energy use was rejuvenated (Dodge, 2006).


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