For part 3 of the energy history series, today’s article will be about the history of wind power. Humans have been utilizing Earth’s resources for hundreds of years. We use wind for sailing, power, paragliding, and even just to freshen up our homes. Here’s how wind contributes to our way of life.
First, let’s go back to 5,000 B.C. Egypt, when Egyptians were exploring the vast Nile River. They discovered how to travel up and down the Nile in boats, using papyrus leaf to catch the wind. Then, a few thousand years later, the Chinese discovered wind-powered water pumps. Around the same time, the Persians were developing the earliest windmills to grind their grain. Soon, papyrus leaves turned into thick canvas for sails, and wind mills were aiding in production of flour, grain, and salt.
Wind turbines are a descendant of the windmill, which became popularized around 1100. The first of wind-powered turbines to generate power started in 1887 in Scotland. Professor James Blythe constructed a 10 m high wind turbine with cloth sails in his garden. This was the first successful wind turbine to power a home. Blythe wanted to share his convenient discovery with his community, but they rejected it. They thought it was the work of the devil. However, Blythe’s work took only less than a year to reach the U.S. when Charles Brush built a wind turbine to power his Ohio mansion. In 1891, Poul la Cour, develops a regulator to control electricity flow. He then worked off of that and built a small power plant in Denmark 4 years later.
Now, wind turbines are prominent in the Great Plains in the United States, offshore, China, and Germany. You can install a personal wind turbine for your home for a couple million dollars. Turbines typically last about 20-25 years.
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