Wind is an effective energy source for wind power mills. Also known today as wind turbines, these mills operate by collecting wind that blows over non-turbulent heights for maximum production.
The History of Wind Power Mills
Windmills with vertical axles were first built in Iran, or what was known as Persia, at the first of the 9th century. In 1180 horizontal axle windmills were used in The Netherlands and other northwestern European countries.
In the USA, windmills were built on farms by the early settlers in the late 1800s, and through the 1940s. They were used to cause a strong water flow for grinding grain, as well as for producing clean water for households and livestock.
The Aermotor Company, located in Chicago, built most of the windmills. The generators, or wind chargers, were manufactured by Montgomery Ward, Zenith, and Sears Roebuck.
Later, before some farm areas had electrical power from utility companies, windmills were used to power radios and lights. When electricity became available to most farmlands, the use of windmills declined.
Since those days, windmills have become a part of the past and restored mainly for tourist attractions.
Wind Power Mills Today
Nowadays, what used to be called a windmill is called a wind turbine or wind generator. Working farms use turbines to produce electricity as opposed to the older days of using them for pumping water. The early windmills needed winds of three miles per hour in order to get the flow of water started.
Today's turbines have blades on a rotor that lift and rotate. The turbines can produce electric power at about seven miles per hour. The maximum speed of production is called the cut-in speed. This is about fifty-four miles per hour. If the wind is too weak, of course, it is unable to generate power. On the other hand, if it is over 134 miles per hour, it will rip the blades off the turbine.
With the oil crisis of the 1970s, interest in wind turbines has steadily increased.
One energy company in Douglas County, Washington, is heading up wind turbine projects on wind farms in hopes that wind generation can become a reality in their region.
Around the World
A number of European nations have been tapping into wind power for decades. In Denmark, The Danish Wind Industry Association began in 1981. This association's primary purpose is to advocate wind energy both in Denmark and all over the world. Denmark currently gets 20 percent of its electrical energy from the wind and Germany receives about 6 percent.
Looking to the Future
The wind is a 100 percent renewable energy source, with estimates that the wind could supply 20 percent of the world's energy needs. Already two percent of California's energy is from the wind.
As we look toward a greener environment in the USA and around the globe, the future of wind power mills looks promising. Research continues to be developed so that humans can rely less on electricity from power companies. Farms in the West and remote areas in Colorado are blazing the trails for the use of more wind generated turbines. The desire is for the government to provide tax credits for investors so that setting up turbine farms would be appealing.
One deterrent for the growth of windmill power is the cost of both the turbines and the land needed to use them. Once the initial costs are taken care of, the money needed to keep the wind turbines running is relatively small. Wind power costs only about four to six cents a kilowatt, down from the 1980s when the cost was about 40 cents per kilowatt.
One set-back that occurred in the US took place in 1983 when some large investors decided to build extensive windmill farms by using cheap windmills. These windmills were not effective or efficient and this led to a decline in tax credits. Many backed away from wind energy and have had to be lured back on board.