The use of windpower for energy dates back to the use of sails for waterborne vessels, but historically, windpower has also been used for pumping water and milling grain. It’s possible that the use of windpower may date back over five millennia of human history, with the sailboats the Egyptians used to navigate the Nile. True windmills were born four thousand years ago in ancient Babylon, and were in wide us in the 10th century in Iran and Afghanistan for the purpose of grinding grain.
Two centuries later, windmills were being used in the western world for grain milling. In the 14th century, Holland adapted windmills to pump water from the low-lying regions to reclaim a substantial amount of land.
The classic multi-vane windmill grew in popularity in the United State in the late 1800s, and windmills were a large American export by the turn of the century. These windmills are still in production, and are often used to pump water to livestock tanks today.
Wind turbines for electricity production were first built in the 1930s and 40s, mostly as a means of providing electricity to farms and homesteads located off the main electrical grid. As the grid expanded, most of these operations were phased out, and wind energy production fell for two decades until the OPEC oil embargo in 1973 created a demand for sustainable, domestic energy sources.
By the late seventies there were almost fifty manufacturers of wind turbines within the United States. Market demand dropped again during the relatively stable energy of the eighties. During that time many wind turbine manufacturing and wind energy companies consolidated and refined their products.
Despite the lowered demand of the 1980s, the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 required utilities to buy electricity from private, non-utility individuals and developers. As a result, wind power has been on the incline. As climate change concerns are more apartment and governments globally make commitments to reduce carbon emissions, wind power offers power generation companies an attractive way to offset their use of coal and other carbon-emitting energy sources with wind power.
Today companies can use HMI and SCADA software like Indusoft Web Studio both to make manufacturing of wind turbines more efficient, and to monitor and control the energy created by the wind industry.
The Strong Future of Wind Energy
The United States just approved its largest offshore windfarm off the coast of New York. The 90 megawatt wind farm would create energy to the citizens of New York, where space for traditional electric power generation is difficult to secure. The ability to host the windfarm off the coast also soothes some NIMBY sentiment by residents who dislike the noise pollution of wind turbines.
New innovations for wind turbine design have also created wind turbines with no blades, or blades that mimic flying birds and reduce noise pollution and bird deaths.
Countries such as Denmark have already replaced much of their traditional oil and coal powered electrical grids with renewable sources. The future of wind energy looks bright.