This paper will indulge in the history of wind energy in North America. Particularly discussing the politics, Government involvement, arguments made by environmentalists opposed to the spread of wind turbines and the impact of western expansion on the energy sector and civilization. It seems the world has always had great expectations for wind energy, thus we beg the question of whether wind energy has reached it full potential or if it ever will. A short but detailed history sets up a discussion, which will help to identify the plausibility of wind energy, and its potential within North America.
Wind is created by different variations of air pressure and temperature, it is a form of solar energy that is generated when sun-heated air rises and cooler air rushes in to fill the vacuum. Thus, unless the Sun disappears and air no longer rises, wind will always be at our disposable as a renewable and everlasting form of energy. Wind has also been thought of as what gave humans first life, and as we will soon see, wind energy has had a long rich history in which unmasks many different sides of an energy perceived as transparent and elementary.
At the time of some of the earliest human existence, it is thought that the wind was part of ritual and religion. More recently it was the Indians that accredited creation of the first humans beings to the power of the wind. It affected hunting strategies and seafaring while also having the power to destroy crops and native lands. Even the bible speaks of “an awesome wind sweeping over the world” at the time of creation (Righter 5). This wind was thought of as the spirit of God and had many references to vast varieties of religions. Even the Greeks became familiar with the God Aelous, he was the keeper of the wind who could use his power to hurt or help mans progress. These stories compel the idea that many different people from many distant eras had the same conception of winds tremendous power.
Wind used to power sailboats, which would eventually help in migration could be one of the greatest occurrences of humans using the wind to our advantage. This started a trend where the world began to see the emergence of windmills and the development of society between the 12th and 19th centuries. The idea behind the windmill actually came from the concept of watermills, and people began to understand the concept of taking natural resources and converting it to a source of energy. Soon after the watermill had evolved, people stormed the rivers and waterways to construct their own which ended up resulting in an overabundance of watermills, especially around the major cities. People downstream were being hampered by the people building these watermills upstream and so the domino effect took place. This was also at a time where Kings and Lords of the area decided it was in their best interest to take ownership of the waterways. This ownership of the waterways also gave them some control over the peasants, and how they were allowed to access these mills. Thus the creation of the windmill was highly praised upon as it created an alternative to the watermill clogged rivers as the only form of what we know as today - renewable energy. The wind could not be owned and could not be controlled by any level of power, which ultimately attracted more people in supporting the development of the windmill. Construction also began during a time where people were rallying against the Kings monopolies and privileges, it was a time where people could produce their own power without being stopped by the Kings and Lords – it “established a condition of freedom that opened an opportunity for the growth of cities, and established a further breach of the Lords energy monopolies” (Kaldellis 13). Below is an example of the first constructed windmill in A.D 1137 by William of Almoner, England.
By the 1300’s windmills would be found...