3,500 BC Egyptians made the earliest known sailboats, using the wind to propel boats.
2,000 BC Windmills may have been used to pump water, according to historical estimates.
200 BC Windmills are used to pump water in China.
600 The Persians of present day Iran used windmills to grind grain into flour.
1100 Wind power appears in Europe during the medieval period. Windmills were used to grind grain.
1300 The first horizontal-axis windmills (like a pinwheel) appear in Western Europe to drain fields in the Netherlands and to move water for irrigation in France. Technological improvements allow for superior grinding and pumping.
1752 Benjamin Franklin conducts an experiment using a kite, a key, and an approaching thunderstorm to help us understand electricity.
1800s American settlers use windmills to pump water along the western frontier. By the late 1880’s, six million windmills had sprung up across America. Steel blades for windmills improve efficiency.
1888 Charles F. Brush invents a large windmill which creates electricity in Cleveland, Ohio. It can produce 12 Kilowatts of electricity. Windmills start to be called “wind turbines.”
Early 1900s Electric wind turbines appear all over Europe and are used to power rural homes and farms in America.
1920s French inventor G.J.M. Darrieus develops a vertical axis turbine, consisting of slender, curved blades attached to the top and bottom of a rotating vertical tube. This design is often called an “eggbeater” shape turbine.
1931 Russia constructs the first commercial power plant to use a wind turbine to produce electricity.
1941 Large wind turbine (1,250 kW) is constructed in Vermont in response to fuel shortages. This supplied power to the local community for several years during World War II.
1971 The world’s first offshore wind farm begins operating off the coast of Denmark.
1973 The Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) begins an oil embargo, causing oil prices to rise dramatically. High oil prices increase interest in alternative energy sources.
1977-81 The U.S. designs several two-bladed turbine prototypes. One prototype, called the MOD-1, had a 2 megawatt capacity.
1980 U.S. businesses are rewarded for using renewable energy with a tax credits. The federal tax credit for wind power was 25%.
1985 California wind capacity exceeds 1,000 megawatts, enough to power 250,000 homes. Wind turbines were still very inefficient at this time.
1989 Federal funding for wind power research has been declining through the 1980’s. The Department of Energy (DOE) funding for this research reaches a low point in 1989.
1990's Growing public concerns about environmental issues such as air pollution and global warming encourage interest in renewable energy.
2001 Wind energy capacity increases 37 percent, reaching 24,800 megawatts. The global wind power industry generates about $7 billion in business.
2003 Europe has 70% of the world’s wind energy, due in part to laws encouraging growth in Germany, Denmark, and Spain.
2005 An updated U.S. Energy Policy Act strengthens incentives for renewable energy sources. Global wind energy production continues to grow exponentially.
2006 Global wind energy production exceeds 74,000 megawatts.
2007 US wind energy capacity increases by an incredible 45%
2008 Global wind energy installed capacity exceeds 94,000 megawatts.
2009 Wind Power provides 2% of worldwide electricity usage.
2010 Cape Wind approved by Federal Government as America's first offshore wind farm.