Imagining a Better Future by Re-imagining the Past

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Green Power in 1930s

Long before the modern concern about energy independence and breaking away from our addiction to fossil fuels, the Diesel Era saw a technology that today would make some people, if you would pardon the pun, green with envy. Following is an excerpt from Paul Gipe’s book, Wind power: renewable energy for home, farm, and business:

"During the 1930s, when only 10 percent of U.S. Farms were served by central-station power, literally hundreds of thousands of small wind turbines were in use on the Great Plains. These "home light plants" provided the only source of electricity to homesteaders in the days before the Rural Electrification Administration brought "high-line" electricity to all.

The market for small wind turbines blossomed in the 1930s as crude "crystal" radio sets were rapidly replaced with more powerful – power consuming – radios using vacuum tubes. Batteries initially met the need, but batteries need frequent charging. The solution was the "windcharger." Through skillful promotion by Zenith Radio and wind turbine manufacturer Windcharger, small radio chargers began spouting from rooftops across the plains states."

This may be an example of one of the lessons Dieselpunk has to offer. By looking back at the lesser known or fringe elements of the Diesel Era, we might actually find solutions to some of our modern day problems.

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