The first wind-powered machine was the windwheel of Heron of Alexandria, built around the first century. In the ninth century, the Persian geographer Estakhri documented the first use of a vertical windmill, which served as the basis for the modern windmill. Windmills harness wind to provide an alternative energy source to many fossil fuels. They can range in size from large, multi-blade structures to smaller tri- or double-bladed machines.
The largest environmental advantage of windmills is their ability to produce renewable energy because their power source, the wind, will never disappear. Windmills also release no greenhouse gasses or waste, so they cut down on environmental pollution. Windmills also take up very little space, so the surrounding land can still be used for farming or other agricultural endeavors.
Financial and Economic
Wind energy provides jobs in the production, maintenance, research and installation of windmills. With the rising popularity of wind energy, more and more jobs have become available in this field. Wind energy is the most cost effective of all types of alternative energy sources. Windmills produce electricity at 5 cents per kilowatt hour, which favorably compares to new coal- and oil-burning technologies. The manufacturing of windmills is the most costly part of wind energy because once installed, windmills require little maintenance and wind is free. Windmills essentially eliminate the cost of electricity once they are installed and excess electricity can be sold back to power companies.
Large structural windmills commonly use the wind to power an attached mill or waterwheel. They function freely and allow owners to grind grain or move water without constant supervision. Thinner, more modern windmills function similarly, and they generate power without constant supervision or maintenance from the owner.
Windmills offer a creative, artistic or modern addition to a landscape or architectural design. A windmill with large, wide blades attached to a brick or wooden structure is a common addition to many parcels of land in the Netherlands and Belgium. These types of structural windmills add an element of whimsy to a home or piece of land. They are usually independent structures but can be attached to a house or other outbuilding for a more innovative and historical look. Modern windmills with two or three thin blades attached to a long pole-type base add a more modern aesthetic to a home or piece of land. They are most commonly seen in large groups.