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History of Wind Energy(2014-01-20)

As early as 3000 B.C., people used wind energy for the first time in the form of sail boats in Egypt. Sails captured the energy in wind to pull a boat across the water. The earliest windmills, used to grind grain, came about either in 2000 B.C. in ancient Babylon or 200 B.C. in ancient Persia, depending on who you ask. These early devices consisted of one or more vertically-mounted wooden beams, on the bottom of which was a grindstone, attached to a rotating shaft that turned with the wind. The concept of using wind energy for grinding grain spread rapidly through the Middle East and was in wide use long before the first windmill appeared in Europe. Starting in the 11th century A.D., European Crusaders brought the concept home with them, and the Dutch-type windmill most of us are familiar with was born. 
Modern development of wind-energy technology and applications was well underway by the 1930s, when an estimated 600,000 windmills supplied rural areas with electricity and water-pumping services. Once broad-scale electricity distribution spread to farms and country towns, use of wind energy in the United States started to subside, but it picked up again after the U.S. oil shortage in the early 1970s. Over the past 30 years, research and development has fluctuated with federal government interest and tax incentives. In the mid-’80s, wind turbines had a typical maximum power rating of 150 kW. In 2006, commercial, utility-scale turbines are commonly rated at over 1 MW and are available in up to 4 MW capacity.