History of wind

    Breezing through history

    Wind power’s development over time

    The earliest known use of wind power in mankind is definitely the sail boat. In Europe, windmills first appeared in the 12th century. In America between 1850 and 1900, a large number of windmills operated irrigation pumps in farms. By 1900, in Denmark, about 2500 windmills were producing an estimated combined peak power of about 30 MW for mechanical loads such as pumps and mills. 

    The most obvious influence on 20th century wind power was the increasing use of electricity. Advances in aerodynamics have transformed windmills to powerful wind turbines today.

    Here’s a look back at milestones in the history of wind power.

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    3000 BC

    Wind's early history

    Since ancient times, people have harnessed the wind's energy. Over 5,000 years ago, the ancient Egyptians used wind to sail ships on the Nile River. Later, people built windmills to grind wheat and other grains. The earliest known windmills were in Persia (Iran). These early windmills looked like large paddle wheels. Centuries later, the people of Holland improved the basic design of the windmill. They gave it propeller-type blades.



    As part of the industrialization in the 1890s, young people moved from the country side into the larger towns, where there was electricity and a modern way of life. Poul la Cour, a Dane who was a physicist, meteorologist, inventor and folk school teacher, devoted his time to introduce electricity to the small communities. He built his first experimental windmillin 1891 in the small town of Askov, less than 20 km from LM Wind Power'scradle in Lunderskov. The first windmill was based on the well-known wind millswhich had been known for centuries to grind corn. But these where quickly changed to adjustable hinged tree shutters or vanes. The unstable nature of the wind did cause some difficulty in getting a stable power supply. To solve this, Poul la Cour invented the “kratostat” a device which evened out the uneven drive of the windmill. This proved to be a success and the kratostat pulled the generator with success.


    Adding wings

    In 1919 two Danish engineers, Johannes Jensen and Poul Vinding, designed and patented a new windmill, The Agricco. The blades were designed as the wings of an airplane and each blade could be turned into different positions just like pitch regulated blades. This windmill also turned against the wind automatically. The wind market declined after 1920, but the idea remained. During the Second World War the interest for wind power was revived and the technology was demonstrated in an even larger scale.


    Introducing modern wind turbines

    Johannes Jull, one of Poul La Cour's apprentices from Askov, erected a new and more modern wind turbine in the mid-1950s, together with the Danish electricity company SEAS. This turbine had a 12 meter mast and two 8 meter blades and a 10 kW generator. It utilized close to 60% of the possible effect of the wind. Only a few years later a tree blade turbine was erected and this produced up to 65 kW, despite a smaller rotor diameter than the first turbine.


    An industry is born

    The oil crisis in the 1970s really boosted the wind powermarket once again. During a 15 year period all pioneers made all theirinventions and theories available for all, allowing the successful developmentof wind power. It was in this period that some of the large companies that arestill in the business where founded, such as Vestas and LM Wind Power. Also companies such as Nordtank, Micon and Bonus where founded and later mergedor acquired by others. 


    Our roots

    Lunderskov Møbelfabrik, or in English Lunderskov Furniture Company, is where it all started  — a long way from the massive composite structures LM Wind Power produces today.

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    Inviting all history buffs!

    Help us preserve the history of the wind. Share your stories about the development of this industry in our founding country, Denmark, and across the globe.

    History of wind images courtesy of: Poul la Cour Museet (www.poullacour.dk) and Danmarks Vindkrafthistoriske Samling (http://www.vindhistorie.dk/)

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