In all ages people looked for ways to use the wind power as it was always in one range with the animal and waterpower. This unique source of energy allowed ancient people to propel boats, pump water and grind grain. With the time, the design and usage purposes changed, but the humans once and again returned to windmills. Nowadays, the wind energy is and important strategy in the development of all major countries worldwide. It supplies the USA with the electricity and employs large amount of people. Although the history shows that the windmills are reliable and renewable sources of energy, the country must pursue their future development as they have much to offer the modern world.
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The Persians were the first people, who constructed windmills about the seventh century B.C. They made a vertical shaft and a framework of reeds around it. Then, they mounted the pieces of fabric, and a strong wind rotated this construction and grind grain. However, this construction was not perfect as the wind could blow in different directions and the windmill did not work at those times. And yet, the windmills in Europe were quite different from those of Persia, so probably the European people created them on their own. This happened because humans tried to use the wind power in all possible ways and adjusted to them differently (Watts, 2006).
The windmills had spread all over the world due to the Europeans who colonized many continents worldwide. The British and the Dutch scientists built the most advanced designs (Taylor, 1999). With the time people changed design of the windmills and improved the necessary features. The first mills in the Western world had four blades mounted on the central post. That is why they had received the name of post mills. The Dutch built towers and fixed the standard mill at their top. These windmills had separate floors for grinding, storage and living rooms for the miller and his family below. They called them tower mills, due to the form of building. Also, there were wooden smock mills that were lighter than the tower mills. Thus, it was easier to make them in the areas with the unstable soil.
The windmills came to the USA from Europe. The first German and Dutch settlers begin to build them for grinding their meals. However, the Americans had an urgent need in facilities that would be able to pump water from beneath the ground. So in 1854 Daniel Halladay designed the first American windmill. It was an improved version of the European windmill and corresponded to the local area peculiarities (Welborn, 2010). These windmills were able to direct the wheel to the wind, and the most important they did not require the human regulation. These windmills were relatively cheap, hence quickly expanded to the whole territory of the USA. They became the suppliers of water to small farms, towns, and railways. Thus, people started to settle at the previously uninhabited areas.
The industrial development brought the steam energy and made the wind energy comparatively inefficient. Nowadays, the traditional windmills are the remaining miracles of the previous ages. The government protects their remains to show the future generations how the humanity adjusted to the goods the nature gives us.
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In the modern world people still use the wind power, and it does not seem to become obsolete. Nowadays, people use it for other reasons, as there are numerous facilities to mill grain without windmills. At the end of 19th century, the scientists approached the windmills as to a reliable and renewable source of energy. The government funded these researches when the country faced fuel crisis at that time. As a result, they laid the beginning to the new era of windmill energy usage. This new way of generation electricity appeared to be productive and safe for the environment.
The U.S. Department of Energy's Wind Program targets to improve the use, decrease costs, and expand the wind technologies across the country (Wind Research and Development). The modern windmills obtained the forms of wind pumps to drainage the land or extract the groundwater, and the wind turbines to produce energy. These modern wind turbines are complicated constructions that remind the preceding windmills only according to the principle of work. They have two or three blades that drive electrical generators rotating at a high speed. There are two types of wind turbines the horizontal and the vertical.
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During the 20th century, the Americans developed the small windmills that met the requirements of the far farms and small households in different states. In the last decade, the interest to the windmills grew immensely as this renewable source of energy is totally environmentally friendly. The world concerns of global warming, climate change, energy security and fossil fuel depletion made people think about the solutions. Today, there are different sizes of wind-powered generators from small household supplying to the extra-large offshore wind farms. These windmills provide electricity to national electric systems (Telles, 2006).
At the end of 2013 there were nearly 72,000 wind turbines across the United States. This capacity produced more than 842 megawatts to power 120,000 of American homes (Wind Research and Development). The produced electricity depends on the wind speed, so the wind turbines take place at about 30 meters above the ground in the most suitable areas. The contemporary technologies allow building even taller wind turbines and producing more electricity. The current usage of windmills strengthens the economy of the country, supports the creation of jobs in construction, manufacturing, maintenance, and retail. The USA produces most of the components locally, having more than 500 manufacturing facilities and employing almost 50,000 people.
One of the developing trends in wind energy generation is the usage of the offshore wind in the coastal waters of the USA. It is a perfect way to supply the large coastal cities with energy. These facilities are stronger as the winds blow more consistently in the open waters than on the land. However, this innovative approach requires more funds, as the process of design, installation and maintenance must be more substantial. Still, the government allocates funds for research and development of these projects. These structures can take place at the seabed or float in the coastal waters (Pieterman, 2013).
The USA together with China are the world leaders of wind energy production.
Wind is a unique source of clean, renewable energy, and the country applies different programs to support future wind power research. The country works on the improvement of the efficiency and reliability of the wind technologies and reduction of costs, necessary for their development and maintenance (Cardwell, 2014).
The windmills have a long history of helping people to receive energy at all times. Primarily they served for grinding grain, later for water pumping, draining land and driving machinery for industrial purposes. The design of the windmills changed as well, in order to adjust to local conditions. In the modern world, the windmills obtained the forms of wind pumps and wind turbines. The last have a strong position in the American energy programs. The future of the windmills seems to be promising, as the humanity will return to the natural renewable sources of energy to save their planet.