Wind... Past and Present:

7,000 years of wind energy

The Present:


Pennsylvania, a coal state, will generate at least 10% of its energy from wind


Denmark now produces 20% of its power from wind and aims to generate 50% of its electricty from renewable energy (primarily wind) by 2030

By year end 2000, the top countries for wind power

Germany: 6,113 MW
USA: 2,554 MW
Denmark: 2,300 MW
Spain: 2,235 MW
India: 1,167 MW
All others: 2,931 MW

Worldwide: 17,300 MW

The Past

Early 1900s AD: US: small wind turbines used to charge batteries and power radios and other small appliances

1890 AD: Denmark: first wind-driven electric generators, aka, the first true wind turbines

Uses over the next centuries included:

  • grind grain
  • pulverizing chalk, lime, oil seeds, snuff
  • draining lowlands (Holland)
  • pumping water for railroads, livestock, crops, and to run sawmills (especially in US)

1100 AD

France and England (and elsewhere): first horizontal axis windmills

600 AD

Persia: windmill building an established craft

200 BC

Persia: first evidence of windmill use

1600 BC

Babylon: plans to use windmills for irrigation

5000 BC

Egypt: wind carries boats along the Nile

John Berger, Charging Ahead: The Business of Renewable Energy and What It Means for America, 1997