Background/History on the Wind Power Industry
The wind power industry first developed in Iran around 200 B.C. The first windmills were vertical axis wind turbines, which were used for pumping water and grinding whole grains for food consumption. The Chinese, Romans and Afghans all used windmills around this time for similar use. In the 13th century Holland started developing large horizontal axis windmills. These four-blade windmills were larger, carried more torque and wind speed and could do more work than other windmills previously designed. These windmills were also used for grinding and pumping water, but on a more productive level. The first windmill in the world built for electrical production was in 1887 in Scotland built by Professor James Blyth. A year later in 1888 in the U. S. Charles Brush of Cleveland, Ohio built a large wind turbine used to generate electricity. By the late 1920's farms across the US were using small wind turbines to generate electricity for farmhouses, irrigation and other reasons since the electrical grid was slow in reaching many locations. In 1927 the brothers Joe Jacobs and Marcellus Jacobs opened a factory, Jacobs Wind in Minneapolis to produce wind turbine generators for farm use. These would typically be used for lighting or battery charging, on farms out of reach of central-station electricity and distribution lines. In this period, high tensile steel was cheap, and windmills were placed atop prefabricated open steel lattice towers. By the 1970s many people began to desire a self-sufficient life-style. Solar cells were too expensive for small-scale electrical generation, so some turned to windmills. From the mid 1970's through the mid 1980's the United States government worked with industry to advance the technology and enable large commercial wind turbines. This effort was led by NASA at the Lewis Research Center in Cleveland, Ohio and was an extraordinarily successful government research and development activity. With funding from the National Science Foundation and later the United States Department of Energy (DOE), a total of 13 experimental wind turbines were put into operation including four major wind turbine designs. Later, in the 1980s, California provided tax rebates for power. These rebates funded the first major use of wind power for utility electricity. As the 21st century began, fossil fuel was still relatively cheap, but rising concerns over energy security, global warming, and eventual fossil fuel depletion led to an expansion of interest in all available forms of renewable energy. The steady increase in oil prices after 2003 led to an increasing demand for commercial wind power. Earlier oil crisis had already caused many utility and industrial users of petroleum to shift to coal or natural gas. Natural gas began having its own supply problems, and wind power showed potential for replacing natural gas in electricity generation. All of these unparalleled energy challenges resulted in a critical need for the development of clean renewable energy. State and national leaders are setting goals and passing legislation and incentives that requires the use of more renewable energy which in turn will lead to the reduction of carbon emissions. The new listings, based on 2008 year-end numbers, show Texas leading in wind capacity and largest wind farms installed, Minnesota and Iowa both generating over 7 percent of their electricity from wind, and Indiana as the state with the fastest growth in wind on a percentage basis. Indiana ranks as the state with the fastest growth rate, expanding installations from zero to 131 MW, followed by Michigan (48%), Utah (21%), New Hampshire (17%) and Wisconsin (6%).The wind energy industry today generates not only clean energy for the economy, but also opportunity for American workers and businesses. IPL Mission
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