Developed in Asia in the 7th Century, windmills became a popular way to harness the energy of the wind. The concept spread throughout Europe and finally into the United States in the 18th and 19th Centuries. Used to grind grain, pump water and other many agricultural and industrial uses, wind energy has become a focus for an alternative source to produce our ever growing demand for electricity.
This mill is located in the small village of Ventebren in the Provence region of France. Used to press olives for oil, it has been in operation for centuries.
My first exposure to an American wind farm was driving to Palm Springs from LA about 10 years ago, helping my daughter escape the rigors of USC for a weekend at Joshua Tree National Park. These large groupings of wind mills are placed in areas where wind patterns have been proven: along ridges, near the coasts, and on wide open plains.
Located between Indianapolis and Chicago, Benton County, Indiana has a large wind farm that is bisected by I-65. Running north-south about ten miles and stretching as far as I could see in either direction, the wind farm is expected to produce enough power for 200,000 homes. I spoke to a woman working at the nearby rest area and she was very pleased with the reduction in the cost of her power bills.
Development of design alternatives address several of the issues of concern to people who argue against wind farms: noise and harm to birds. In addition, some new development will enable placement of smaller wind turbines in urban settings on tops of high buildings.
It may surprise you how achievable this resource has become. As of 2011, the Empire State Building, one of the world’s largest buildings has achieved the distinction of becoming the largest buyer of green renewable wind power.