The Answer May Be Blowing In The Wind


An old windmill stands on the hill "Egelsberg" near Krefeld, Germany, Tuesday, July 20, 2010. (apn Photo Mark Keppler)

It was not until the 1900s that windmills were adapted to produce electricity. A windmill used to generate electricity is commonly called a wind turbine. The first windmills (or wind turbines) for electricity production were built by the end of the 19th century. In 1888, Charles F. Brush of Cleveland, Ohio, designed the first windmill to incorporate a step-up gearbox which would more efficiently harvest the wind. By the 1930s, windmills were widely used to generate electricity on farms in the United States where distribution systems had not yet been installed. Wind power fell out of favor during the industrial revolution with the use of steam and with technological advances of fossil fuel driven power technologies and industry.

The first large-scale electricity-producing windmill in the United States was built at the summit of Grandpa’s Knob, in Castleton, Vermont. It supplied energy to the New England power grid and generated enough electricity to power about 1,000 Vermont homes. It operated briefly during World War II, beginning it’s operation in October of 1941. In 1943, a main bearing failed and a replacement part took more than two years to replace. It was up and running again in March of 1943 only to have a metal connector crack later that month. The cracked connector caused one of the eight ton blades to be tossed over 700 feet. With America at war and steel and manufacturing at a premium, the replacement of the blade was near impossible and coal prices were much cheaper than the price of electricity produced by the wind turbine. The project was dismantled but the experiment was a success. It was a forerunner of the modern horizontal-axis utility-scale wind generators and we knew for certain that we could generate power from a large scale turbine and feed power to a local electrical grid.

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Posted by on Mar 1st, 2012 and filed under Feature Story. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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