A Brief History of Wind Power

If we are to discuss wind power generation, we should start at the beginning.

One of two 1887 wind turbines

Wind energy has a long and glorious history. In fact, it was around long before mankind learned how to harness it so that it would serve a more useful purpose than merely dispersing the leaves you had just finished raking into a pile.

Once upon a time, wind powered our ships, blowing into our billowing sails. Wind powered our mills, grinding our grain so that we could make bread and cakes. Wind was used to ventilate buildings. Wind-powered pumps drained the Netherlands and pumped water into the desert.

But it was not until late in the 19th century, that mankind learned how to make wind energy portable by converting it to electricity. Today, wind powers everything from light bulbs to heating systems, from power tools to home entertainment. And it still powers our mills, but not our ships.

The first wind turbine to produce electricity was in Scotland (a land where Windsmith has installed several wind farm projects), where it powered a house in 1887. The cloth-sailed wind turbine stood 33 feet high and produced enough electricity to power the street lights in the town of Maykirk – but the townsfolk rejected electricity as “the work of the Devil”.

Of course, wind no longer works alone; the electricity wind farms generate is combined with energy generated from solar, nuclear, fossil fuel and coal power generation, together mixing in what we call “The Grid”.

It must be understood that until recently, wind was not a major player feeding the grid. Not until the 1990s did the public start to discuss wind as a mainstream source of electrical power. Climate change and an eventual shortage and even depletion of fossil fuels have combined to make wind energy more attractive.

In the posts ahead, we will discuss wind power and its role in electricity generation, climate change, economics and practical applications, and we will also share with you some of our wind farm installation and maintenance experiences..

Testing various wind turbines at North Cape, PEI, Canada