Wind power, also referred to as wind energy, converts wind into electric power through wind turbines.
Wind power has been obtained for years and continues to be a source of renewable energy many are using. Below is a brief outline of the history, expansion and increasing demand for electricity generated through wind turbines.
July 1887: The first wind turbine to generate electricity was created by James Blyth of Scotland. He tested out three different designs. Once finalized, he used his design to power his own home for years.
A few months later, in Cleveland, Ohio, Charles F. Brush built an automatically-operated wind turbine that generated electricity. His wind turbine was 60 feet tall, weighed about 8,000 pounds and had more than 140 rotor blades.
1930s: Wind power started to become more common; specifically; farms in the United States began to utilize wind power.
1931: A wind turbine was constructed in Yalta, USSR. This turbine was much like today’s horizontal-axis turbine and had an annual capacity factor of 32 percent. The capacity factor is the average amount of power generated divided by the rated peak power.
1941: The first megawatt-class wind turbine was constructed in Vermont.
1951: John Brown & Company built the first utility grid-connected wind turbine to operate in the UK in the Orkney Islands.
1970s: Oil prices rose dramatically. Many engineers decided to repair wind turbines that were created in the 1930s and sell them.
1974: President Ford signed the Energy Reorganization Act that created the Energy Research and Development Administration. This administration brought together the major programs and research of all forms of energy. The act provided funding for accelerated research for renewable energy after oil prices skyrocketed.
1975: NASA used funding to create an industry for wind turbines. They tested out different designs and eventually set world records for both energy output and rotor size.
1976: University of Massachusetts built a wind turbine with a model that most turbines sold by U.S. Power use today.
1977: The U.S. Department of Energy was created during President Carter’s term.
1978: The Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act stated that utilities must purchase electricity developed by renewable energy sources.
1980: The first wind farm, which consisted of 20 turbines, was constructed in New Hampshire.
1982 & 1985: Because of the California Public Utility Commission, California had a number of wind farms throughout the state. However, when oil prices dropped, utility companies stopped signing contracts to purchase wind power.
1993: The National Wind Technology Center was founded for wind energy research. A wind turbine known as the variable-speed turbine was created that reduced wasted energy, costs and wear and tear.
1999: This was a record-breaking year for the amount of energy generated by wind power. States such as Minnesota, Texas and Iowa were major contributors to the energy obtained through wind turbines.
2005: President George W. Bush signed the Energy Policy Act to help fight energy problems.
2008: The United States reaches 20,000 MW in wind capacity.
2009: More funding became available for renewable energy development through the Obama administration.
2015: Wind capacity in the United States reached almost 74,000 MW.
Efforts from the U.S. Government, renewable energy groups and advocates promote renewable energy as a great alternative source for power.
Over time, the technology and efficiency of wind turbines has increased, making them a more beneficial and cost-effective way of obtaining electricity.
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