History of Wind Power

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From the start of the modern era of large wind turbine generators, the history of wind power can be traced back more than 7000 years to the first use of sails to propel reed boats in Southern Mesopotamia. The first windmills with a reliable historical record were vertical axis machines in Iran and Afghanistan early in the Islamic era. Horizontal axis windmills with four blades developed independently in England from (horizontal axis) waterwheels over the twelfth century and spread rapidly throughout Northern Europe. The main early applications were for pumping water and grinding corn but as soon as electrical power arrived, large wind machines were built to drive the generators. Many competing designs were tried but the competition narrowed down to two blades versus three blades with rotors of 100 m diameter and more before the modern wind industry settled upon three-blade design.

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The offshore wind industry has evolved both as an extension of and as an alternative to land-based wind farms in countries hindered by land scarcity or constrained by public concerns. The social and political role that offshore wind plays is similar to that of land-based wind and other renewable energy technologies, namely, that offshore wind farms bolster energy security, support greenhouse gas emission reductions and renewable energy targets, and create opportunities for new industries and jobs. However, the unique attributes of offshore wind farms, such as the greater wind energy resources they are able to capture offshore and their proximity to major coastal demand centres, have also helped to carve out a unique political, economic, and public role for the offshore wind industry.
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