The Early Years
Since over two thousand years, humans have harnessed the power of wind.
Heron of Alexandria, a mathematician and engineer, created what he called the windwheel in the first century AD. This windwheel was used to power a pipe organ and make “flute-like noises.”
The evidence of wind power disappears until the 7th and 8th centuries AD when windmills are used in Iran to grind flour or pump water.
Our next significant development was the discovery and use of electricity in the 1800s. However, it was at least 100 years before the right mind emerged.
James Blyth is the first person to develop wind power in the world.
In July 1887, Blyth constructed the first Scottish wind turbine. His wind turbine, which was 10m high and cloth-sailed, was placed in the yard of Marykirk, Kincardineshire. It was used to power the lighting. This made it the first house to receive electricity from wind power.
Blyth offered surplus electricity to Marykirk for lighting Marykirk’s main street. However, Marykirk refused the offer because they believed electricity was “the work devil”.
Later, he built a wind turbine to provide emergency power to Montrose’s Asylum. However, the technology was not economically feasible at the time. [Source]
Hot on Blyth’s heels, American Charles Brush was building his first electricity-generating wind turbine in 1888 in Cleveland, Ohio. It had a diameter of 17 meters (50 feet), 144 cedar wood rotor blades, and produced 12 kilowatts of power. [Source]
Next, we meet Poul la Cour, a Danish man.
La Cour, inventor, scientist, meteorologist, and teacher, was a key force behind the development of modern wind turbines. La Cour was the first to realize that turbines with fewer blades were more efficient and that regulators could be used for a steady supply.
The 20th Century is here
Individuals and companies from all walks of the globe developed technology at a utility-scale level throughout the 20th century.
Thanks to government incentives, material science, engineering, and other factors, the pace of development has been increasing since the 1970s. First windfarms were constructed, providing electricity for thousands of homes.
The first offshore wind turbines were installed by the Danes in the 1980s. This was the beginning of the industry that dominates renewable energy.
As you can see, turbines have increased in size and efficiency.
What is the cost of a wind turbine?
It all depends on several factors, including whether the turbine is located onshore or offshore.
Offshore turbines are more expensive than those onshore due to the additional logistics challenges.
The cost of generating 1 megawatt (MW) is calculated using a ratio.
Onshore wind farms were costed an average of PS1.61 million per megawatt (includes transmission), or PS3.99m if Hywind is not included. [Source]
Levelized cost of energy (LCOE), which allows you to compare all costs, is one way. Source
What size are wind turbines?
The graphic shows how they have changed over time and how they compare to other landmarks and buildings.
The newest giants are GE Haliade X-13 from GE, which boasts 220 metre rotors (that’s 107 meters per blade!) It stands more than 250m tall.
The world’s largest wind turbine, the Vestas V236-15.0MW has “industry-leading performance” and is pushing the boundaries of wind power. [Source]
What’s the future of Offshore Wind?
It is certain that its future as a major electricity supplier will be secure with the commitment of tens to billions of dollars for offshore wind projects all over the globe.
Two areas can also be developed to further establish the industry.
Wind to Hydrogen
One rapidly-evolving technology is the use of wind turbines to power electrolysers that then produce Hydrogen. This Hydrogen can be made from renewable energy.
Wind power’s next frontier is in deeper waters, where foundations and fixed platforms are not possible. Solutions are being created to enable floating wind turbines to be installed using the vast experience gained from the oil and gas industry.