Poul la Cour

Storing wind power

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The electrolysis basement.

The electrolysis basement below the wind turbine building at Askov around 1900. The basement had 10 electrolysis tubs. The electricity for the electrolysis came from direct current dynamos which were driven by the wind turbine. On windy days up to 1000 litres of hydrogen and 500 litres of oxygen were produced per hour.

     From 1891 to his death in 1908 Poul la Cour systematically researched how wind power could support his social vision. The biggest problem was storing wind power from the stormy days to the days with no wind. When he came up with the idea to solve this problem he asked the Finance Committee of the Danish Parliament for money to build the test turbine at Askov. In 1891 the test turbine was ready and the tests started.
     By using the energy of the wind, the movement of the blades should drive a dynamo which then produced electricity. The electricity was led into a tub of water where it split the water into the gasses oxygen and hydrogen and the gasses were then separately collected in tanks. At first, la Cour used the gasses for lighting e.g. Askov Folk High School but later on he discovered that the gasses could also be used for autogenous welding and for a time he was a leader in this field.
     All of his life, Poul la Cour discovered new ways to store energy as he thought accumulators were too expensive. The test turbine was used to make soda lye, calcium carbide and fertilizer. But he finally conclude that the most realistic solution was a small accumulator battery that could store one day’s electricity consumption. A farm wind turbine could only be used for threshing on windy days and all labour on the farm involving the wind turbine would have to be planned according to the weather.
     If a large wind turbine was installed at an electricity plant, it was equipped with a backup engine running on petrol or gas. He received money to build a new wind turbine in 1897 and after some years this prototype was used at Askov electricity plant. For thirty years the turbine produced electricity with a very moderate consumption of backup power.




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