Wind turbines convert wind power to electrical energy, providing an alternative to fossil fuels and other non-renewable sources of electricity.
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Since the beginning of time, people have used the wind to power their boats by harnessing its power. I’m going to skip over that portion of the history of wind power and move straight on to the utilization of wind power for mechanical and electrical applications. I’m particularly interested in the history of wind turbines, especially their development over time.
The usage of a wind-driven wheel to power a machine is documented for the first time in recorded history in the first century AD. Heron of Alexandria, a Greek engineer, is the one who came up with the idea for this windwheel.
Windwheels were put to use for a variety of purposes in the Sistan region of Iran, which is located close to Afghanistan, between the 7th and 9th centuries. The Panemone windmills are put to use in the processes of grinding corn and wheat, as well as pumping water.
By the year 1000 AD, windmills were being used in China and Sicily for the process of extracting salt from seawater.
In the 1180s, vertical windmills were being used to grind flour in the Northwestern European region.
1887 marks the year when Scotland became home to the world’s first wind turbine that was designed to generate energy. Professor James Blyth of Anderson’s College in Glasgow is responsible for the design of the wind turbine (now known as Strathclyde University). “Blyth’s 10 m-high cloth-sailed wind turbine was installed in the garden of his holiday cottage at Marykirk in Kincardineshire. It was used to charge accumulators developed by the Frenchman Camille Alphonse Faure, which in turn powered the lighting in the cottage, making it the first house in the world to have its electricity supplied by wind power. Blyth’s wind turbine was powered by accumulators developed by Camille Alphonse Faure. Blyth offered the inhabitants of Marykirk the surplus power for the purpose of lighting the main street; however, the people of Marykirk declined the offer because they believed that electricity was “the work of the devil.”
1888: Inventor Charles Brush constructs what is believed to be the first wind turbine ever used in the United States for the purpose of producing energy so that he can power his Ohio house. (This is pictured up above.)
1891: A Danish scientist named Poul la Cour creates a wind turbine that is capable of generating electricity. Subsequently, he figures out how to produce a continuous stream of power from the wind turbine by making use of a regulator called a Kratostate.
Poul la Cour transforms his windmill into an early model of an electrical power plant in the year 1895. After then, it is put to use in order to supply the settlement of Askov with electricity so that it can be lit.
By the year 1900, the country of Denmark made use of approximately 2,500 windmills, which had a combined peak power capacity of 30 megawatts. These windmills are used for mechanical functions such as grinding grains and pumping water.
1903 marks the beginning of Poul la Cour’s work to establish the Society of Wind Electricians. In addition to this, it is believed that he was the first person to discover that wind turbines with fewer blades that spin at a higher speed are more effective than turbines with a greater number of blades that spin at a slower speed.
The Society of Wind Electricians
1904 marks the year that the Society of Wind Electricians hosts its first educational seminar on wind power. (Students from the class are depicted up above.)
By the year 1908, the entire country of Denmark was home to 72 wind power systems that generated energy. The power output of the windmills ranges anywhere from 5 kW to 25 kW.
In 1927, Joe Jacobs and his brother Marcellus Jacobs opened a manufacturing company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, under the name “Jacobs Wind.” They manufacture wind turbines specifically for use on farms, which typically do not have connection to the grid for their electricity needs. In most cases, the wind turbines are used to charge batteries as well as provide power for lighting.
In 1931, a French aeronautical engineer named Georges Jean Marie Darrieus patented a concept for a vertical-axis wind turbine that would later be known as the Darrieus wind turbine. This kind of wind turbine is still in use today, but only for purposes that are more specialized, such as on boats; it is not used nearly as frequently as horizontal-axis wind turbines.
1931: A wind turbine with a horizontal axis and a design not dissimilar to those in use today is constructed in Yalta. The wind turbine has a capacity of 100 kW, a tower that is 32 meters high, and a load factor of 32% (which is really quite comparable to the load factors that modern wind turbines get).
1941: The first wind turbine with a capacity of one megawatt is successfully connected to a regional electrical distribution grid. The Smith-Putnam wind turbine, rated at 1.25 megawatts, is being installed in Castletown, Vermont. It has blades that are a total of 74 feet long.
Small wind turbines were installed on German U-boats during World War II so that the batteries could be recharged without using additional gasoline.
Since the company’s founding in 1957, Jacobs Wind has developed and delivered roughly 30,000 wind turbines to customers all over the world, including in Africa and Antarctica.
1957: Johannes Juul, a former student of Poul la Cour, constructs a horizontal-axis wind turbine with a diameter of 24 meters and three blades. The design of this wind turbine is quite similar in concept to wind turbines that are still in use today. The wind turbine has a capacity of 200 kW and utilizes emergency aerodynamic tip brakes, which were a new idea at the time but are still used in wind turbines today.
1975 marks the beginning of a NASA wind turbine program with the goal of developing utility-scale wind turbines. “Many of the multi-megawatt turbine technologies that are used today were pioneered by this research and development program.” These technologies include steel tube towers, variable-speed generators, composite blade materials, partial-span pitch control, as well as aerodynamic, structural, and acoustic engineering design capabilities. The big wind turbines that were created as a result of this project set a number of world records for diameter as well as power production.
1975 marks the year when the first wind farm in the United States goes online, producing enough electricity to supply 4,149 residences.
In 1978, students and professors at the Tvind School created the world’s first wind turbine capable of producing multiple megawatts. The wind turbine with a capacity of 2 megawatts “pioneered numerous technologies utilized in modern wind turbines” and made it possible for companies like Vestas and Siemens to obtain the components they required. The innovative wing construction, which was accomplished with the assistance of German aeronautics experts, was of particular significance (this wind turbine is still running today).
1978 marks the year when Vestas, a Danish company that manufactures wind turbines, creates its first wind turbine.
In 1978, the United States government passed the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA, Public Law 95-617). The Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA) mandates that utilities link renewable energy projects to the grid. In addition to this, it mandates that utilities make purchases that are equivalent to their “avoided cost,” or the amount of money it would take for a utility to construct its own power plant.
1980 marks the beginning of Zond, a wind developer (which eventually becomes GE Wind Energy).
Danregn Vindkraft, a Danish producer of wind turbines, was established in 1980 after initially operating as a Danish manufacturer of irrigation equipment. In subsequent years, it transforms into Bonus Energy and, eventually, Siemens Wind Power.
1980: The levelized cost of generating electricity from wind in the United States is presently $0.38 per kilowatt-hour.
1980 marks the year that the world’s first wind farm, which consisted of 20 wind turbines, went live.
In the 1980s, Denmark began installing wind turbines in offshore locations.
In the 1980s, Enertech began manufacturing wind turbines with a capacity of 1.8 kW that were capable of being connected to the grid.
The 1980s saw the introduction of commercial wind turbine rotors with diameters of up to 17 meters and power outputs of up to 75 kilowatts.
In 1981, the United States saw the construction of its second wind farm. The total installed capacity of wind power in the United States is currently roughly 10 megawatts, which is sufficient for approximately 8,575 houses.
1981: The state of California passes legislation to provide tax incentives for wind turbines.
The United States of America had four operational wind farms in 1982, which is double the number from the previous year. These farms provide enough electricity to supply up to 13,500 residential properties.
In 1983, Danregn Vindkraft changed its name to Bonus Energy in order to more effectively compete in the United States market, which was its primary focus.
In 1983, there were eight wind farms operational in the United States, which is double the number from the previous year. These farms generate enough electricity to supply up to 109,000 residences, which is over a dozen times more than they did just two years earlier.
1984: Fifteen wind farms are operational in the United States, roughly double the number from the previous year. These farms generate enough electricity to provide up to 146,000 residences.
In 1984, Enercon was established. It eventually becomes Germany’s largest wind turbine producer, a position it has held to this day and continues to hold now.
In 1986, tax subsidies for wind turbines in California were allowed to expire.
In 1986, Vestas, which had previously concentrated on various kinds of equipment (dating all the way back to 1898), made the decision to concentrate entirely on the market for wind turbines. It does this while simultaneously selling off its other business branches to become Vestas Wind Systems A/S.
1987 saw the completion of the 3.2 megawatt wind turbine that had been created as part of the NASA wind turbine program. It has what is being called “the first large-scale variable-speed drive train and a sectioned, two-blade rotor,” both of which make it more portable.
PURPA was amended in 1990 by the Solar, Wind, Waste, and Geothermal Power Production Incentives Act of 1990, which removed size restrictions on renewable energy power facilities that were eligible for benefits under PURPA.
1990: 46 wind farms in the United States are operational, generating enough electricity to supply roughly 300,000 houses with power.
In the 1990s, as customers placed a greater emphasis on both durability and performance, towers made of tubular steel and reinforced concrete were used underneath wind turbines.
1991 marks the year that Vestas completes the sale of its 1,000th wind turbine.
1991 saw the construction of the world’s first offshore wind farm, which was located in southern Denmark. It is comprised of 11 wind turbines, all of which were produced by Bonus Energy and have a capacity of 450 kW apiece.
In 1991, Cornwall became the location of the first onshore wind farm to be built in the United Kingdom. The wind farm consists of ten separate wind farms, all of which contribute to the overall production of enough electricity to power around 2,700 houses.
The Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind power was first implemented in the United States in 1992. In addition to promoting installation, the PTC offers financial incentives for the generation of electricity (which resulted in problems with performance and reliability). Wind energy producers are compensated at a rate of 1.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for the electricity that they generate during the first ten years of operation of their facilities. In the next few years, the Production Tax Credit (PTC) will likely be one of the most important incentives driving expansion in wind generation in the United States. However, Congress allows it to lapse numerous times before voting to bring it back into operation, which results in a boom-bust cycle and dampens the law’s overall impact.
1994: Vestas introduces the OptiSlip, a revolutionary wind turbine, to the market. Through the use of OptiSlip, the wind turbine is able to maintain a steady flow of electricity into the electrical grid.
1994: Gamesa Eólica, a subsidiary of Spain’s Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica, is established with the purpose of manufacturing wind turbines. Gamesa Corporación Tecnológica was established in 1976 with the purpose of developing new technologies and applying them to emerging businesses. In addition, it initiates the development of wind power plants the following year.
1995 marks the year when Vestas launched production of its first offshore wind turbine.
In 1995, Suzlon Energy was established in India with the purpose of fabricating, installing, and running wind turbines.
Between the years 1995 and 2000, commercial wind turbine rotors reached a maximum diameter of 50 meters, and wind turbines reached a maximum capacity of 750 kilowatts, which is approximately 10 times greater than around 10 years previously.
1996 is the year that the total wind power capacity of the world exceeds 6,100 megawatts.
Enron purchases both Zond and the German wind turbine maker Tackle in the year 1997.
1998 saw the total capacity of wind power around the world hit 10,200 megawatts.
In 1998, the Chinese company Goldwind was established with the purpose of producing wind turbines.
1998 is the year that Vestas launches its initial public offering (IPO) on the Copenhagen Stock Exchange, marking its transition to a publicly traded company.
1999 saw the launch of Vestas’ “OptiSpeed” wind turbine, which was designed specifically for use in locations with low wind speeds.
2000: 97 wind farms around the United States are operational, generating enough electricity to provide up to 592,000 residences. The total installed capacity for wind power in the United States is 2,554 megawatts.
In the year 2000, Gamesa of Spain placed an order for 1,800 wind turbines manufactured by Vestas. This was the largest wind turbine order ever placed.
2000 is the year that Gamesa holds its initial public offering (IPO) on the Bolsa de Madrid stock exchange.
In the year 2000, the total wind power capacity around the globe reached 17,400 megawatts.
During the bankruptcy proceedings that Enron was going through in 2002, GE purchased Enron Wind. Eventually, in the year 2012, GE Wind Energy will become the leading wind turbine producer in the world.
In 2002, there were 149 operational wind farms in the United States, each producing enough electricity to provide up to 1.1 million homes.
In 2002, the total capacity of wind farms around the world reached 31,100 megawatts.
2003 marks the year when north Wales plays host to the opening of the first offshore wind farm in the UK. It is comprised of thirty wind turbines, each of which has a power output of two megawatts.
2004 saw the merger of Vestas and NEG Micon. After that, Vestas controls 34% of the market for wind turbines, which is a significantly larger share than any other country.
2004: Siemens acquires Bonus Energy (originally called Danregn Vindkraft). “Between the years of 2004 and 2011, Siemens increased its wind power division’s share of the company’s total revenue from 0.5% to 5%, while the number of employees increased from 800 to 7,800.”
2005: In the United States, 226 wind farms are operational, generating enough electricity to power up to 2.2 million homes.
2005 saw the total capacity of wind power around the world surpass 59,091 megawatts.
In 2007, the United Kingdom made public its intention to deploy a sufficient number of offshore wind turbines to meet the demand for electricity in the entire country by the year 2020.
In 2007, the total capacity of wind farms around the world reached 93,820 megawatts.
In 2008, there were 416 wind farms operational in the United States, each producing enough electricity to provide up to 6.5 million homes.
As of the year 2008, the United Kingdom is home to around two thousand wind farms, each of which generates enough electricity to power over one and a half million homes.
In 2008, the total capacity of wind farms around the world reached 120,291 megawatts.
2009 saw the beginning of operations for the world’s first large-capacity floating wind turbine, which was located off the coast of Norway. It was designed by Statoil and used a wind turbine manufactured by Siemens.
In 2009, the Roscoe Wind Farm in Texas surpassed all other wind farms to become the largest in the world. It is comprised of 634 wind turbines and has a total power generation capacity of 781.5 megawatts. This image depicts a section of the Roscoe Wind Farm, which can be seen above.
2009 saw the beginning of the implementation of an investment tax credit for makers of wind power devices. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 includes the thirty percent tax credit as one of its provisions.
2009: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 allocates $93 million for research and development in the field of wind power. “The research and development of wind turbine drivetrains will receive 45 million dollars, the development of new technologies will receive 14 million dollars, wind power research and development will receive 24 million dollars, and the National Wind Technology Center will receive 10 million dollars.” In addition to this financing, the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act would provide the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) with more than one hundred million dollars.
2009: The United States Treasury Department is offering new wind power projects in the United States the opportunity to apply for a subsidy of up to thirty percent of the total project cost in order to assist in covering costs and to encourage economic activity. The funding program is a provision of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and it is only open to initiatives that will be put into operation before the year 2010 comes to a close.
2009: New wind energy projects in the United States are eligible for a 30% Investment Tax Credit (ITC) instead of the Production Tax Credit (PTC), if they so choose. The funding program, which was established as a component of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, is restricted to initiatives that will be put into operation before the year 2013 comes to a close.
As of 2010, the United States was home to 581 wind farms, which collectively generated enough electricity to supply up to 10 million residential properties.
In 2010, the levelized median cost of wind power in the United States was $0.008 per kilowatt-hour, which is around 21% less expensive than it was in the 1980s. (The base rate is $0.06 per kilowatt-hour.)
2010 saw the signing of the first lease for an offshore wind energy project, known as Cape Wind, by the United States Department of the Interior.
In 2010, China overtook the United States to become the nation with the highest total installed capacity of wind power anywhere on the globe. The following are some charts that illustrate new and cumulative wind power capacity by country:
In 2010, the total capacity of wind farms around the world reached 197,039 megawatts.
2011 sees the establishment of the Siemens Wind Power division.
In 2011, the median levelized cost of wind power in the United States was $0.07 per kWh. This was an increase from the previous year. (There is a minimum charge of $0.05 per kWh.)
2011: Commercial wind turbine rotors can reach up to 126 meters in diameter, and wind turbines can reach up to 7500 kilowatts in capacity, which is approximately 100 times more than in the 1980s.
2011: Japan’s plans call for the construction of a floating wind farm with multiple units (6 wind turbines, each with 2 megawatts of capacity). Off the coast of Japan, close to Fukushima, Japan plans to have up to 80 floating wind turbines operational by the year 2020.
The Alta Wind Energy Center in California, which opened in 2012, is now the wind farm that holds the record for being the largest in the world. It now has a power capacity of 1,320 megawatts, but there are future expansion plans to bring that number up to 3,000 megawatts. At the end of 2012, it consisted of 440 wind turbines.
There are currently 815 wind farms operating in the United States, with a total power capacity of approximately 60 gigawatts. This is sufficient to power up to 15 million residences in the United States.
2012 is the year when wind power overtakes solar as the primary source of new power capacity in the United States. This year, 45,100 wind turbines have been installed in the United States, which accounts for 42% of all new generating capacity added in the United States.
2012 saw the United States reclaim its position as the world’s largest market for wind power.
The amount of wind generating capacity that has been installed in China in 2012 approaches 75 gigawatts, making it the biggest in a single country anywhere in the world.
As of 2012, the United Kingdom had installed more than 3 gigawatts of offshore wind power capacity, making it the largest in the world and having more than three times as much as Denmark, which is in second place.
2012 saw the total capacity of wind power around the world exceed 282,587 megawatts.
As of 2012, wind power was meeting more than 30 percent of Denmark’s demand for electricity.
In 2012, Vestas produced its 50,000th wind turbine, and the combined power capacity of all of its wind turbines that were installed across the world reached 50,000 megawatts.
In the United States, the median levelized cost of wind power in 2013 was $0.06/kWh, which is approximately 15% less expensive than it was in the 1980s. The cost of electricity is $0.006 per kilowatt-hour.
2013 saw the installation of what is believed to be the world’s first hybrid wind/current-powered turbine off the coast of Japan.
2013 saw the completion of the London Array wind farm in the United Kingdom. After its completion, the London Array will be the largest offshore wind farm in the world. It is equipped with 175 wind turbines, giving it a total capacity of 630 megawatts of power capacity; this is sufficient to meet the annual electricity requirements of 480,000 homes in the United Kingdom.
2013: GE began manufacturing wind turbines with built-in energy storage capabilities.
In a single month in 2013, 54% of Spain’s electricity was generated from renewable sources, the majority of which was wind energy (April).
2013 saw China once again overtake the United States to become the world’s largest market for wind power.
2013 saw wind power overtake nuclear power to become China’s third-largest source of electricity, surpassing hydropower.
Wind power has produced more electricity in Spain than any other source for the past three consecutive months, and it is currently responsible for providing the nation with around 25 percent of its total electrical demand.
In 2013, the United States saw the deployment of its first offshore wind turbine.
Wind energy has come a long way, but there is still a significant amount of room for it to advance. It is expected that its expansion in the coming decades will be significantly larger than it has been up until now.
Wind turbines and technology advanced throughout the 20th century. Wind turbines were employed on farms, while many believed they could not power cities. Technology allowed wind turbine blades to mimic airplane propellers. Their smaller size eased production and construction. Wind turbine generators may generate 3 kilowatts. Wind energy can power this method. Their small size made construction easy, and more could be assembled. This helped them generate more power. Early development was slow. However, the previous 20 years have seen incredible growth.
When were the first times that wind turbines were used?
1887 marks the year when Scotland became home to the world’s first wind turbine that was designed to generate energy. Professor James Blyth of Anderson’s College in Glasgow is responsible for the design of the wind turbine (now known as Strathclyde University).
What is the background of the utilisation of wind energy?
Since the beginning of time, people have harnessed the power of the wind to meet their energy needs. As early as 5,000 BC, people around the Nile River propelled their boats using the energy provided by the wind. By the year 200 BC, windmills with woven-reed blades were being used to grind grain in Persia and the Middle East. These windmills were driven by rudimentary wind-powered water pumps in China.
What are the three primary categories of wind power?
Wind Power on a Utility Scale This describes wind turbines with power outputs ranging from 100 kilowatts to several megawatts, which feed electricity into the power grid and are run by electric utilities or power operators, who then provide it to the end customer.
Are wind turbines beneficial to the earth’s ecosystem?
Wind turbines, with very few exceptions, do not produce emissions that can damage the air or water, nor do they require water for the cooling process because they do not need it. Wind turbines have the potential to lessen the quantity of power that is generated using fossil fuels, which in turn leads to a reduction in the overall amount of pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.
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