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  • Print publication year: 2020
  • Online publication date: February 2020

1 - Introduction

Summary

The introductory chapter is a brief recap of the history and origins of wind power, from windmills in ancient times to today’s multi-megawatt turbines. Energy security has arguably been the historic driver for wind power, and it was a primary source of mechanical power until the advent of the Industrial Revolution, when it was superceded by coal and oil. The first electricity-generating wind turbines were built in the late nineteenth centry, and the technology was pursued most vigorously in Denmark, a country with limited energy reserves: the role of this country in creating the modern wind turbine is described. The worldwide energy crisis of the 1970s brought wind power into the frame internationally, and the pivotal role of legislation under President Carter in expanding the market for wind energy in the US and elsewhere is outlined. Since then, the rationale for wind power has expanded to include climate change, and the technology has grown exponentially in terms of global installation of wind power and the physical size of wind turbines. The chapter concludes by introducing some of the technological steps that have enabled this process, which are detailed in subsequent chapters.