History of Wind Energy

Harnessing the wind is one of the oldest methods of generating energy. Since ancient times man has used the help of windmills to grind the harvest and to pump water. With the appearance of electricity at the end of the nineteenth century, the first prototypes of modern wind turbines were built, using technology based on the classical windmill. Since then it has been a long process until wind energy was accepted as a serious and commercially sound method to generate energy.

Emerging interest in alternative energies

The oil crisis of the 70s, and even more the anti-nuclear power movement of the 80s, raised interest in alternative energies and the search for new ecologically and commercially viable ways of generating power intensified. The wind turbines built at that time were mainly for research and extremely expensive. With the help of government financed international research and funding programs, as well as the creation of research institutes in the 80s, new methods of renewable power generation continued to be researched, developed and implemented.

International co-operation in the wind energy sector

Research institutes such as the German Wind Energy Institute (DEWI) and the Danish Research Institute Risø, as well as various research programmes and international co-operatives in the wind energy sector, were instrumental for the industrial and technological breakthroughs of professional wind energy pioneers. Thanks to close co-operation between the research institutes and the wind energy pioneers, international standards, strict regulation and increasingly efficient designs were developed and implemented to result in modern, commercially viable wind parks.

Global wind energy capacity

With the development of the 55 kW wind power station in 1981, the early high costs of wind energy were dramatically reduced. Wind energy is now one of the cheapest energy sources when all external costs (e.g. environmental damage) are taken into account. Modern wind power stations increasingly generate a major proportion of global energy.

The worldwide installed electricity generation capacity from wind power has increased rapidly and amounts to 651 GW (2019). The wind energy industry with its continuously growing export volume has become an important global growth market and economic factor.