National Geographic produced a short video about 1,000 year-old windmills in Iran. Apparently, they were used to help process grain to be made into food.
Live Science made a more in-depth video which states that almost 3,000 years ago, in what is now Iraq, windmills were used to pump water. Windmills were also used about 2,000 years ago to grind grains, according to the video. About 1,000 years ago, windmills began appearing in Europe.
It goes onto to say the modern wind turbine was invented by Charles Brush in the US in the 1800s. Brush actually also created his own battery system, so he not only had a huge wind turbine which generated electricity, he also had energy storage long before anyone else.
Windmills have been used for water pumping on farms in the US for well over a century, “According to an article in the journal Wind Energy, more than one million such windmills had been erected across the United States starting in the mid-19th century.” (Homepower.com says there are about one million in operation around the world today.)
Recently on a trip to the John Muir national historic site, I noticed this windmill. It’s no longer functioning, but did when Muir lived there in the very large house on the hill. Muir and his wife Louise oversaw the production of all sorts of fruits on many hundreds of farm acreage.
In the next photo, you can see it located near the carriage house in about 1891.
If Muir had been in more of a position of political power, it would have been very interesting to see if he would have advocated for more wind turbines in the vein of what Charles Brush had created, or if he even knew of Brush’s work. Muir was an inventor, and if he had ever met Brush, he might have greatly appreciated the huge wind turbine and home battery system Brush had installed at his home.
Today, wind power is misperceived by some as being a fringe technology for environmentalists. However, it has been assisting humans for thousands of years in various forms, long before the use of fossil fuels. It also appears the utilization of wind resources will easily last much longer than the use of fossil fuels.
A full accounting of the value wind power has generated for human civilization for thousands of years might measure in the trillions of dollars or more.
Image Credits: J. Richardson
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