The Oil Drum recently conducted an interview with Paul Gipe, author of Wind Power and Wind Energy Basics, in preparation for the World Wind Energy Conference. We have reposted the interview on ChelseaGreenRadio which you can listen to here.
From the interview:
Ben : For today, I am especially interested in, since you have all this experience, I am especially interested in getting some type of historical background of how wind power has been developed since the 1970s up until now. I know that Denmark back then had the state-of-the-art technology and the industry is going through record high oil prices all the way through record low oil prices and now we are again approaching record high oil prices. So, could you walk us through the developments of the wind power sector?
Paul Gipe: Well, the development of wind energy has often been connected to the availability, not just the price of oil and when oil has become abundant and very low cost it has set back wind power development a number of times. Wind generation of electricity really began in Denmark around the turn of the century where wind turbines were being developed to produce the direct current for charging batteries at the villages that had not received central station electricity in Denmark and during the war years, the First World War when oil supplies were cut off by the British blockade of Jutland, the Danes again turned to wind power and also as they are entering World War II when the German war machine needed oil, it was consuming all the oil available in the continent. The Danes again turned to wind power for generation of electricity in the villages of the Jutland Peninsula and then in the 1950s and 1960s, we saw a real bloom in the development of wind technology in Germany, in England, and in Denmark and with the abundant supply coming from the big giant, super giant, fields of Saudi Arabia that the bloom was taken off the flowering of wind energy at that period and that technology then lapsed for a number of years, but what was key was during the 1950s, for a decade, for 10 years there was a wind turbine operating commercially, but it is successfully producing electricity for over 10 years using a technology that today we would think is very crude, but contains the fundamental elements of what we call the Danish Wind Turbine Design and it is those fundamental elements that have brought us to the state of where wind energy is today and why it has become so successful. So, following the 1950s, the next great boom in wind energy development took place in early 1980s in California, from 1981 through 1985, before this next great collapse in the price of oil and the rise of Thatcherism and Reaganism killed renewable energy industry in the Anglophone world. Key happened. At that time, of course, California was the world center of renewable energy development, not just wind, but primarily wind, and that wasâ€¦
Ben : That was in the 1980s? The early 1980s when Californiaâ€¦
Paul Gipe: Yeah, early 1980s, yes. That is why I am in California; it is because I followed the wind to California and work in Tehachapi, which is still to this day one of the largest concentrations of wind turbines in the world. Tehachapi produces almost 2 terawatt hours a year or two billion terawatt hours a year, electricity from about 3500 wind turbines, so it is still a center of wind energy development to this day.