Wind Power In Human History
Wind has been harnessed by humans since very early in recorded history. Wind power was first used on small coastal boats that began the great trading empires to come. Soon, the small boats became ocean going ships capable of circumnavigating the globe all with the power of the wind. Known as the age of sail, wind power remained the only reliable source of energy to move the great ships until the development of steam engines began in the early 1700s.
On land, wind power has been used to grind grain and pump water since at least the 9th century. Use of wind power for domestic and agriculture use probably reached its peak in the United States in the 1890s. At that point it is estimated that there were more than 8 million windmills operating all over the country.
As electrical appliances grew more widespread beginning about 1920, many rural farms installed wind turbines to generate their own electricity. Wind power was a primary source of electricity for tens of thousands of farms that were not connected to a local electrical utility.
The Rural Electrification Act, passed in 1935 as part of the federal efforts to combat the Great Depression provided federal loans for the creation and installation of electrical distribution systems capable of providing virtually unlimited amounts of electrical power to outlying farms. As more of these distribution systems came online, the need for wind powered generators decreased dramatically. In fact, the expanding local utility companies often required farmers to do away with any wind power generating equipment as a condition of being hooked up to the local grid. By the early 1950s almost all of the windmill and wind generator manufacturing companies had been forced to close.
However, the oil embargo in the 1970s reignited interest in the idea of self-sufficient energy production. During the next 20 years interest in wind power, and other sources of energy, came and went in relation to the price of fossil fuels. By 1990, the growing concerns of diminishing global reserves of standard fuels, along with fears of global warming had many believing that, this time, wind power is here to stay. Countries outside the U.S. like Germany, Spain, and Denmark have all invested in building large commercial wind farms capable of supply huge amounts of electric power.
Also, many companies are now in the business of manufacturing and installing wind power generator systems in homes large and small both in rural and city environments.
Read more about harnessing wind power for your home at Home Wind Power
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