In 1973, when the United States met 94% of its energy requirements from nonrenewable sources, OPEC's oil embargo had a dramatic impact. Supply disruptions and a four-fold price increase caused an increased interest in renewable (i.e., sun-driven) resources. As one response, the Department of Energy and private companies began to develop the forerunners of today's modern wind turbines.
WF-1 Wind Turbine at University of Massachusetts, 1976. Photo courtesy of the University of Massachusetts.
UMass Wind Furnace WF-1
The mid 1970s saw the design, construction and installation of a 25-kW wind turbine at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. According to the University's Renewable Energy Research Lab, this turbine, known as WF-1, was at the time of its completion the largest existing wind turbine in the United States and for a short time, one of the two or three largest operating turbines in the world. It has now been decommissioned and is currently being prepared for storage and transportation to the Smithsonian Institution.
History content contributors include Harley Lee of Endless Energy, James Manwell of the University of Massachusetts Renewable Energy Resource Laboratory, and Tom Gray of American Wind Energy Association. Edited by Bob Grace, Sustainable Energy Advantage, LLC.