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Wind Turbine History

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Early in 3,500 BC, The Egyptians were the first known people to use the power of the wind. They created sails for their boats to propel them down the Nile.

The concept of harnessing the wind for mechanical work slowly evolved. It is still debated where the true birthplace of the windmill began. The Babylonians used wind power for irrigation during the 17th Century BC, 4th Century BC the classic work Sanskirt made reference a contraption that used the wind to lift water.

The first documented windmill dates back to 200 BC made by the Persians to girding grain. These early windmills had a vertical access design with sails made out of reeds or wood and were usually x-xft (5-9m) tall.

Windmills were introduced in the Roman Empire around 250 AD.  Windmills become common in Europe around the 11th century. Dutch windmills were being used in Rhine delta to provide drainage by 14th century.

wind turbineIn 1300 AD, the first horizontal axis wind-mills made their way in the fields of Western Europe where grinding grain was only secondary to the purpose of its invention. The then Europeans had something else in mind, perhaps this would have been the best discovery yet in terms of a machine which would successfully reduce their efforts put ahead for irrigating purposes. The windmills helped them in irrigation as the water would be drained from the Netherlands and then they would amenably move the water to France for irrigation.

Wind turbines were first used for electricity generation in July 1887 in Scotland where the turbine was used to charge a battery for lighting the home of James Blyth, a Scottish scholar. This led to the development of the first automated wind turbine for generating electricity by America’s Charles F Brush in Cleveland, Ohio, USA only a few months later. At this time, electricity generation from wind turbine was considered uneconomical except for scarcely populated countries.

The development of the wind turbine continued and by 1900, Denmark alone had about 2500 windmills for various purposes like milling, pumping, and electricity generation with about 30 MW yield. At the time, the largest wind turbines were set up on a 24-meter tall tower with a rotor diameter of 23 meters and had 4 blades. By the year 1908, the U.S. had a 72 windmills with a total capacity of 25 MW. By the onset of the 1st world war, the U.S. was producing 100,000 windmills for farm use purposes e.g. pumping water.
USSR in 1931 developed a wind turbine at Yalta, which later gave way to the modern wind turbines. The wind turbine was a 100 KW generator which was placed in a 30-meter tower and was connected to the local 6.3 kV distribution system. This wind turbine had an annual capacity factor of 32% which is close to the modern wind turbines. The first megawatt wind turbine was installed early 1941 in Vermont. However, after 1,100 hours of operation this wind turbine failed but it was not repaired due to limited resources during World War II.

The first modern wind turbine connected to a utility grid in UK was developed by John Brown & company in 1952 at Orkney Islands.

 

Next: Wind Turbine Types

Last Updated on Sunday, 17 November 2013 23:09  

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