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Who Really Invented Windmills?

Discover the fascinating history of windmills and their mysterious origins!

Who Really Invented Windmills?

Who Invented Windmills

Windmills have been an essential part of human history, fulfilling various purposes such as grinding grains, pumping water, and generating electricity. The invention of windmills can be traced back to several centuries ago and to different parts of the world. Let's explore the history of windmills in detail.

Early Forms of Windmills

The earliest concept of windmills was developed in Persia and Afghanistan in the 7th century AD. At that time, the windmills were horizontal and called 'panemone' windmills. These types of windmills had sails that were arranged in a circle and were used for grinding grains and pumping water.

The horizontal windmills soon made their way to China, where they were modified and attached with vertical shafts. These windmills were used for irrigation purposes, and the design spread throughout Asia and the Middle East.

The Medieval European Windmill

The European windmill, as we know it, was developed in the 12th century. The vertical windmill had blades that rotated around a horizontal axis. These windmills were used for grinding grains and pumping water, and were a significant advancement in agriculture at that time.

Windmills soon became widespread in Europe and were mostly used for grinding grains. The Dutch became experts in building windmills and developed more complex designs, such as sawmills and drainage mills, which were necessary for their land reclamation projects.

The Modern Windmill

In the late 19th century, windmills were modernized and mainly used for generating electricity. Charles F. Brush developed the first windmill for generating electricity in the United States in the 1880s. The windmill had a rotor with a diameter of 17 meters and had 144 blades.

In Denmark, Poul la Cour developed the first wind turbine for electricity production in the early 20th century. The wind turbine had a capacity of 200 kW and was mainly used for powering local areas.

Today, wind turbines have become an increasingly crucial source of renewable energy. They are extensively used in various parts of the world for generating electricity and are a sustainable alternative to fossil fuels.


Windmills have come a long way since their inception in ancient Persia. They have played an essential role in agriculture, irrigation, and energy production and have helped humans in various aspects of their lives. The invention and advancement of windmills have been a significant step towards sustainable energy production, and their contribution to a cleaner environment and the planet's health cannot be ignored.

Who Invented Windmills?

Windmills have been around for centuries, serving a multitude of purposes from grinding grains to generating electricity. But who was the mastermind behind this ingenious invention?

The earliest recorded windmill design dates back to ancient Persia around 500-900 A.D. The Persian windmill was a vertical shaft design, with the blades of the mill horizontal to the ground and the wind-catching sails made of reeds or cloth. These early versions were used for grinding grains and pumping water. However, it was in Europe during the 12th century that windmills truly took off, and their use expanded dramatically.

The Dutch are most often credited with the invention of windmills. Starting in the 14th century, they began using windmills on a large scale for drainage purposes to reclaim land from the sea. The Dutch windmills were built with wooden frames that held sails made of thin wooden slats. These sails could be adjusted to capture the wind and regulate the speed of the blades. The mills were used to drain wetlands, mill grain, and saw wood.

The Impact of Windmills

The use of windmills has had a significant impact on various aspects of human society, ranging from agriculture to energy production to climate change.

On Agriculture

The invention of windmills revolutionized agriculture by making the grinding of grains and pumping of water much easier and more efficient. Windmills allowed farmers to produce more food in a shorter amount of time, ultimately leading to an increase in food production. The windmill also reduced the amount of manual labor required to till the land and water crops.

On Energy Production

The modern windmill, also known as a wind turbine, has had a significant impact on energy production. Wind turbines convert the energy of the wind into mechanical energy that can be used to generate electricity. The use of wind turbines provides a sustainable and renewable energy source, reducing our dependence on nonrenewable fossil fuels. Wind turbines are now used to generate electricity on a large scale and are a significant part of the world's energy mix.

On Climate Change

The use of wind turbines in energy production has also had a positive impact on climate change. Wind power generates no greenhouse gases or air pollution, making it a clean alternative to burning fossil fuels. Wind energy helps to reduce the amount of carbon dioxide and other harmful pollutants that are released into the atmosphere, ultimately leading to a cleaner environment for us all.

In conclusion, while the true inventor of windmills remains a mystery, their impact on the world is undeniable. From their humble beginnings grinding grains and pumping water to their current use as a clean and sustainable energy source, windmills have played a crucial role in shaping human society and helping to protect our planet.

Windmills have been around for centuries, but have you ever wondered who invented them? According to our pillar article on agricultural innovations, it was the Persians who first developed windmills for irrigation in the 7th century. However, windmills have also been used for other purposes, such as milling grain. Check out our related article on the history of keys, which sheds some light on the ancient origins of windmill technology. And for an interesting comparison, see our related article on the history of video recording, which explores early innovations in capturing motion in still images.

Who Invented Windmills?

Windmills have been used for centuries to harness the power of the wind and grind grain, pump water, and generate electricity. While the exact origin of windmills is difficult to determine, there are records of their use in the Middle East and China as early as the 7th century AD. However, the first practical windmill, as we know it today, was invented in Persia (modern-day Iran) in the 9th century AD.

The Persian windmill, also known as the "panemone windmill", had vertical sails made of reeds or wood fixed to a horizontal shaft. The windmill was used to grind grain and pump water and was widely adopted in the Middle East and Central Asia. From there, windmills spread to Europe and were used extensively for more than 500 years until the development of more advanced machinery in the 19th century.

Future Developments in Wind Technology

Offshore Wind Farms

Offshore wind farms are large-scale wind energy projects that are installed in bodies of water, such as oceans or lakes. This technology is being developed to take advantage of the stronger and more consistent winds available offshore. These farms have the potential to generate large amounts of electricity and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The first offshore wind farm was installed off the coast of Denmark in 1991, and since then, more than 100 offshore wind farms have been built around the world. The largest offshore wind farm, the Hornsea 1 wind farm located off the coast of England, has a capacity of 1.2 GW and can power over 1 million homes.

Innovations in Blade Technology

Innovations in blade technology are making wind turbines more efficient and productive. New materials and shapes are being developed to improve performance and increase the lifespan of wind turbines. For example, some wind turbines are now being designed with blades that can adjust their angle and shape automatically to optimize their performance in changing wind conditions.

Scientists are also exploring the use of biomimicry to design wind turbine blades that mimic the wings of birds and bats. This could improve the aerodynamics of wind turbine blades and reduce the harm caused to wildlife.

Integration with Energy Storage

Integrating wind turbines with energy storage technology is one way to make wind power a more reliable source of energy. Unlike conventional power plants, wind turbines generate electricity intermittently based on the wind conditions at any given moment. This variability makes it difficult to balance supply and demand, especially during periods of low wind.

Energy storage systems, such as batteries, can store excess energy generated by wind turbines and release it when the demand for electricity is high. This can help to overcome the variability of wind power and make it a more reliable source of energy. In addition, energy storage systems can help to further reduce reliance on fossil fuels by storing excess renewable energy generated during off-peak periods.


While the history of windmills dates back centuries, the future of wind technology looks promising with the development of offshore wind farms, innovations in blade technology, and integration with energy storage systems. As technology advances, wind power has the potential to play an increasingly important role in meeting our energy needs while reducing our reliance on fossil fuels.

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