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History of Renewable Energy - Kaan Demirci

Throughout the history of humankind, energy has been a necessity and tool to ease and expedite the human life. Although most people believe that energy term got involved in our lives with the Industrial Revolution, it all started with waterwheels, which convert hydropower to mechanical power at 200 BC in Europe. Before fossil fuels, almost all sources used for energy were renewable since it was the nature itself. In the 16th century, windmills were very popular among farmers to mill grain in the Netherlands. However, ancient versions of these windmills had been found and used in Central Asia and the Middle East in the 7th century. The only difference was the direction of windmills. These people used it in a horizontal form.

After the Industrial Revolution and the rise of technology, the sun has become an option to produce energy. French Augustin Mouchot invented the first solar energy system in 1860. According to records and his own words, he was aware of the fact that coal could be drained away in the future. Because of that, he went towards and ran trials on his project ‘sun meter.’ After that, a British professor William Grylls Adams studied on how selenium cells can be used to harness sunlight and transform it to electricity and he succeeded. It is the ancestor of today’s solar panels.

In 1888, American farmer Charles F. Brush invested a windmill that generates energy from wind power in Cleveland, Ohio. After a decade, Denmark had 72 turbines to convert wind power to electricity. It can be said that the 20th century was a revolution for renewable energy. Famous physicist Albert Einstein worked on ‘photoelectric effect’ and consummated by examining how light-cells carry potent forms of energy that can be harnessed to power buildings across the civilized world. In 1927, renewable energy became a topic of commercials in the US with wind turbines.

Three decades later, after Brush invented wind turbines, it had become widespread across the US. In 1935, Colorado landmark was built to control the water flow along the Colorado River and to provide Southern California and Arizona with a steady water supply. At the time, it was the largest hydroelectric facility in the US. Also, the first nuclear power reactor was built in 1951 to test whether nuclear energy is transformable to electricity or not. 1958 saw the principal US satellite utilize sun oriented vitality as its capacity source. The Vanguard 1 propelled on St. Patrick’s Day.

The idea of peak oil during the 1950s started another drive towards renewables. Sunlight based, hydro, and others were taken advantage of by both naturalists and industrialists. They were both similarly worried about the exponential increase in the human populace, in oil utilization, and understood that it is a limited asset and will run out paying little mind to the size of the stock today. A developing ecological development, the improvement of natural sciences, and a push against contamination implied that like never before previously, sustainable power source became a logical advancement for the future, yet a need for humankind.


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