Wind Turbines

Feb 12, 2007

Wind machines were used for grinding grain in Persia as early as 200 B.C. This type of machine was introduced into the Roman Empire by 250 A.D. By the 14th century Dutch windmills were in use to drain areas of the Rhine River delta. In Denmark by 1900 there were about 2500 windmills for mechanical loads such as pumps and mills, producing an estimated combined peak power of about 30 MW. The first windmill for electricity production was built in Cleveland, Ohio by Charles F. Brush in 1888, and in 1908 there were 72 wind-driven electric generators from 5 kW to 25 kW. The largest machines were on 24 m (79 ft) towers with four-bladed 23 m (75 ft) diameter rotors.

By the 1930s windmills were mainly used to generate electricity on farms, mostly in the United States where distribution systems had not yet been installed. In this period, high-tensile steel was cheap, and windmills were placed atop prefabricated open steel lattice towers. A forerunner of modern horizontal-axis wind generators was in service at Yalta, USSR in 1931. This was a 100 kW generator on a 30 m (100 ft) tower, connected to the local 6.3 kV distribution system. It was reported to have an annual load factor of 32 per cent, not much different from current wind machines.

How wind turbines work

1. Wind causes blades to rotate
2. Shaft turns generator to produce electrical energy
3. A transformer turns this into high-voltage electricity
4. Electricity is transmitted via the power grid

Leading wind energy nations
1. Germany - 20,622MW
2. Spain - 11,615MW
3. USA - 11,273MW
4. India - 6,053MW
5. Denmark - 3,136MW
6. Italy - 2,123MW
7. UK - 2,016MW
8. Netherlands - 1,564MW