The History of Wind Power
The first form of harnessing wind energy was by explorers. They used sails to help their ships along the ocean. As early as 2000 B.C., the first true windmill was said to be built by Ancient Babylon. Windmills were not very apparent until around the 10th century in eastern Iran and Afghanistan where they were used to grind grain.
In the west, the earliest references to working wind energy werent until the 12th century. They too were used to grind grain. It wasnt until a few hundred years later that the Dutch modified the windmill to pump water and so reclaim much of Holland from the sea.
One main problem which faced the development of windmills was that the wind changed direction. To battle this, inventors made a post windmill, which is a windmill where the whole body can be rotated to face the wind.
Another problem was the actual construction of the windmill. To set it up, workers had to physically pull big poles up and fasten them in place. With no machinery to help them, it was strength to build it up. Because of this, windmills were still not used everywhere until they were able to efficiently construct them.
The windmill that most people think of wasnt invented until the latter half of the 19th century in the United States. There were 77 windmill factories in the United States by 1887. Most Steam engines used large multi-vane windmills to pump water to them.
By the 1930's and 50's, thousand of windmills were constructed to supply power to farms without power lines to them. They were generally used to power a radio, pump some water, and power a light bulb or two. However, by the 1950's, the American power grid extended to almost every household in America put a stop to wind turbine development for 20 years.
Because of the climbing energy prices in the 1970's, small scale windmills became popular once again. Large windmills with blades around 300 feet in diameter could power up to 700 houses. Many business started selling small scale models specifically for home or farm use.
By 1997, over 2% of all of California is powered by windmills. Due to the large open plains and canyons, California is an ideal location for windmill farms. Windmills are used im farms still They being used to pump water throughout the farm, particularly to livestock. Without the power of the wind for farmers to use today, it would be very difficult and expensive for them to provide power to their farms.