"…What an ingenious contraption, to harness nature's powers in that manner!.." The Adventures of Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes
From the Santa Maria ship used by Christopher Columbus to sail the ocean, to the "giant" windmills that Don Quixote saw as his enemy to modern day wind turbines that add electricity to power grids, wind has been used as a source of energy for centuries. Over the last five years, wind power has been the fastest growing renewable source of energy averaging an annual growth rate of 28 percent.
Wind power can be defined as electricity generated using the wind. According to the Department of Energy, wind turbines capture the wind's energy with two or three propeller-like blades, which are mounted on a rotor to generate electricity. The turbines sit high atop towers, taking advantage of the stronger and less turbulent wind at 100 feet (30 meters) or more aboveground. Unlike traditional power plants, wind energy incurs no fuel costs and is environmentally friendly because there is no burning involved.
Wind turbines described as stand-alone applications are used for pumping water or providing energy to a home or farm. Other turbines can supply energy to the electricity grid. Wind farms consist of a large group of turbines built close together to generate electricity.
In 1888, Charles Brush invented the first large windmill used to generate electricity in Cleveland, Ohio. It had 144 blades made of cedar wood and a large tail. It was the first windmill to use a step-up gearbox to turn a direct current generator at its required operational speed.
End of Page
Return to Top