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History of Wind Power

September 29, 2017
Paul Gipe

Gårdmøllerne or Danish Farm Windmills--A Review

Benny Christensen knows his windmills. An early anti-nuclear activist and proponent of 100% renewable energy—a photo of him appears in Steven Borish’s Land of the Living—Christensen has now turned his attention to documenting the country’s long history of working with the wind.

His book, Gårdmøllerne: Det Første Danske “Vindmølle-Eventyr,” chronicles Denmark’s first adventure with windmills in pictures and text. These are wind turbines used on farms, Gård in Danish, mostly to grind grain, but also to provide mechanical power, and eventually to generate electricity.

As one would expect, Denmark has a rich wind history and the slim book’s broad sweep gives a good idea of the scale of the wind industry in the 19th and early 20th century.

In the mid to late 19th century Danish windmill manufacturing blossomed, particularly in windy northwestern Jutland. (Not unsurprisingly, this was the same region that spawned the rebirth of Danish wind power in the 1970s and 1980s.)

The regional concentration of the Danish industry was not unlike the flowering of windmill manufacturing around the American Great Lakes in the late 19th century. Americans will quickly see the parallels between Danish “wind roses” and American farm windmills of the period. Yet this is only one aspect of the Danish industry at the time.

Denmark also produced unique windmill designs not seen on this side of the Atlantic. There are photos, advertising broadsides, product tables, and production volumes for the odd looking Danish “wind catcher,” the once popular clap-sail windmill, and of course the famous Lykkegaard design that was used extensively during both world wars.

This is a book not only for hard core wind historians like T. Lindsay Baker and Etienne Rogier, but also for any student of technological history. It’s also a book for the true windmill geek.

Christensen and his colleagues at the Danish Historic Wind Power Collection (Danmarks Vindkrafthistoriske Samling) provide a valuable service to the world by preserving Danish wind history. We owe them a debt of gratitude for their vision of a renewable future and for the life-long dedication to making wind energy a reality—once again for the Danes.

To get a copy, contact Benny Christensen (bemctimspam @ spamgmailspam . spamcom) directly. You may be able to find copies in Denmark at Energimuseet (the Energy Museum), Nordisk Folkecenter for Vedvarende Energi (Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy, and Danmarks Vindkrafthistoriske Samling.

Christensen, Benny. Gårdmøllerne: Det Første Danske “Vindmølle-Eventyr”. Skjern, Denmar: ØkoTryk, 2017. ISBN 9788799516766. 72 pages. A4 format. Printed in Denmark.

You can read more on the Gårdmølle-projektet (farm windmill preservation project) and find links to the following from the book.



Heides maskinværksted og de sejlivede klapsejlere fra Mors

There is also a stand-alone article on the same subject: Fokus på de nord- og vestjyske gårdmøller.

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