CHAPTER 8Wind Power Systems – Electricity from Thin Air

With all the different renewable energies available today, wind power is considered a model technology because it has transformed from something of a cottage industry to a billion-dollar business within just a few years. During the mid-1980s wind power was still viewed as relatively unimportant, yet by 1995, 3655 wind turbines had been installed in Germany, with a total capacity of more than 1000 MW. By the end of 2017, Germany had 28 675 onshore wind turbines with an impressive capacity of 50 777 MW and 1169 offshore turbines with a capacity of 5387 MW, resulting in the creation of more than 100 000 new jobs.

Yet, the use of wind power is actually old hat and dates back many centuries. Years before the birth of Christ simple windmills were being used in the East for irrigation purposes.

Wind power was not exploited in Europe until much later. In the twelfth century post mills started to become popular for milling grain in Europe (Figure 8.1). These had to be rotated towards the wind, either manually or with the help of a donkey. In addition to milling grain, millers in those days also had the difficult job of managing the mill. When a storm approached, millers had to stop the mill in time so that they could remove the canvas from the vanes to prevent the power of the wind from destroying the mill. Wooden block brakes were used to stop the mechanism, but these were not without their own dangers. Sometimes the miller realized ...

Get Renewable Energy and Climate Change, 2nd Edition, 2nd Edition now with the O’Reilly learning platform.

O’Reilly members experience books, live events, courses curated by job role, and more from O’Reilly and nearly 200 top publishers.