As early as 5000 B.C. people traveled along the Nile River with boats propelled by wind energy. By 200 B.C., water was being pumped by simple windmills in China, while grain was being milled by vertical-axis windmills with woven reed sails in Persia and the Middle East. Windmills were being used extensively in the Middle East for food production by the 11th century, which then influenced merchants and crusaders to carry this idea back to Europe.
The Dutch famously adapted enhancements of the windmill and used it to drain lakes and marshes in the Rhine River Delta. In the late 19th century, this technology was brought to the New World by settlers who then pumped water to farms and ranches and later generated electricity for homes and industry. In Europe and later in America, industrialization led a steady decline in the use of windmills. However, it also sparked the development of larger windmills in order to generate electricity. These windmills became known as wind turbines which appeared in Denmark as early as 1890.
Electric power was fed to the local utility network for months during WWII by the largest wind turbine known in the 1940′s. This wind turbine sat on a Vermont Hilltop known as Grandpa’s Knob and was rated at 1.25 megawatts in winds of about 30 mph.
Popularity of wind energy usage has always fluctuated with the price of fossil fuels. Interest in wind turbines waned after World War II when fuel prices fell. But by the 1970s, when price of oil escalated, the interest in wind turbine generators rose proportionately.
For many years to come, the fastest growing energy source of wind energy will power industry, business and homes with clean renewable electricity.
Today, thanks to technological innovation, rising demand for energy, encouraging policies, and and increased concern for the environment, wind turbines of all sizes have become a familiar sight across The Wind Corridor for a wide variety of reasons. This region is bless with some of the best wind in the world and holds incredible amounts of perpetual and infinite energy. By harnessing that energy, we enjoy some of wind’s many advantages.
- Provides Affordable, Long Term Price Stability
Technological advancements in turbines, blade designs, telecommunications, and computing have made wind energy cost-competitive with other forms of electricity. And, while the price of electricity from other sources can fluctuate due to variable costs like fuel, the fuel price on a wind farm is fixed for perpetuity. This means that wind power can help hedge against fuel price volatility in other forms of generation.
- Revitalizes Rural Economies
Wind energy can diversify the economies of rural communities, adding to the tax base and providing new types of income for farming and ranching communities. Wind energy investments are large and these capital investments add a new source of property taxes in rural areas that otherwise have a challenging time attracting new industry. Communities across our region now actively recruit wind energy development as part of their regional economic development programs.
- Creates Jobs
Wind energy projects create new jobs ranging from meteorologists and surveyors to structural engineers, assembly workers, lawyers, bankers, and technicians. On a per MW basis, wind energy creates 30% more jobs than a coal plant and 66% more than a nuclear plant. And, as wind development has expanded in the region, wind energy manufacturing has grown as well.
- Provides Greater Energy Independence
Wind turbines diversify our energy portfolio and help reduce our dependence on imported fossil fuels. Wind energy is homegrown Texas energy and – because its cost is constant – can help provide a hedge against increases in fossil fuel costs. Regional wind and natural gas resources integrate well, creating opportunities for both markets to grow while unseating dirtier, imported fuels.
- Supports Agriculture
Wind farms are spaced over a large geographic area, but their actual “footprint” covers a small portion of the land (less than 5%), meaning they have little impact on agricultural uses. This means that wind turbines can be installed without interfering with people, livestock, or production. In many parts of our state, farmers and ranchers have been able to stay on their land thanks to a new crop, the wind energy they harvest above their land.
- Provides Economic Benefits to Rural America
Developing local sources of energy means our energy dollars are invested back into the local economy. Landowners benefit directly from lease payments, school districts benefit and local governments benefit from tax revenue, and local workers benefit from job opportunities that are often difficult to find in rural America.
- Is Drought-Resistant
After agriculture, traditional power generation is the nation’s second largest use of water. Wind is an infinite fuel that generates electricity without using water. For example, producing the same amount of electricity can take about 600 times more water with nuclear power than wind, and about 500 times more water with coal than wind.
- Helps Protect Clean Water and Clean Air
Wind turbines produce clean power with no emissions of any kind, which is healthier for all Americans.