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
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
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.