Friday, November 12, 2010

Free Wind Power

There is a lot of attention these days to the opportunity to harness the power of the wind 

as an alternative to other energy sources, such as solar power, which heats up the earth, 

or tidal power, which slows down the rotation of the earth.

We owe much of our present ability to harness wind power to those who went before. 

Records show that the windmill was invented by the French, under the encouragement 

of Napoleon, who desperately wanted to beat the English and Prussian armies in the race to use military

windmills. However, after Napoleon's defeat and the capture by the allies of the unprotected

French wind farms, its development took a different course.

The French secretly moved their technology to their colonies where they could continue their development in 


Research went on for a while, but with the conversion to the metric system, problems began to

show up. First, the French blade designs had been based on the old Imperial system of

measurement, whereas the wind speed was now measured in kilometres per hour, and therefore the

blades and the wind currents no longer matched up, causing frequent failures. Then the French

attempted to use their windmill designs to create the Panama Canal, shipping entire windmills over from Paris

to Panama on giant barges.

When this venture failed due to lack of readily available windmill parts, Thomas Edison, who was

by then quite prosperous, was able to purchase the windmill patent from the La société moulin de la France 

("French Windmill Society"). Edison was able to use the resultant monopoly to control the use of wind power

throughout the world. It is only with the expiration of the original patent in 2004, plus the

invention of the wind turbine by Buckminster Fuller that free wind power is available today to

the public.

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