The progression of wind energy innovation
Wind turbines began to flourish – most especially in rural areas with scattered populations (they were considered uneconmical in highly populated areas) – and by the 1900s, Denmark had approximately 2500 windmills used for mechanical loads needed for milling and pumping water. By 1908, there were 72 electricty-generating windmills in the United States and by World War I, the windmill industry really began to boom – producing approximately 100,000 farm windmills per year. These windmills were primarily used for water pumping purposes in these rural, agricultural areas. The first vertical axis wind turbine (the Darrieus wind turbine) was invented by Frenchman Georges Darrieus in the 1920s. But it was the USSR’s wind turbine, developed in 1931 near Yalta, which paved the way to our modern-day horizontal wind generator. It was a 100 KW turbine, placed in a 30-meter tower and connected to the local 6.3 kV distribution system. It had an annual load capacity factor of 32% – close to the modern wind turbines.
The first megawatt wind turbine was created in Vermont (1941) but the first wind turbine to be connected to a utility grid was developed in 1952 by John Brown & Company in the UK (Orkney Islands). Thethree-bladed turbine which inspired the designs that are prevalent today was built in 1956 by engineer Johannes Juul in Gedser, Denmark. Juul’s invention – emergency aerodynamic tip breaks – is still used in turbines today. This turbine operated until 1967 and, at the request of NASA, it was refurbished in the 1970s.