The unexpected arrival of a wind turbine blade at the Tate Modern earlier this month made in protest against the Tate’s relationship with BP marked the continuation of the sustainability march against the oligarchs of the energy empires. The continual streams of protests made over many decades may occasionally manage the odd dent on the oil industries reputation – but how many supporters are aware how long this battle has actually been running?
In The Strand Magazine, 1898 it was reported that, 17 years earlier, Lord Kelvin had made a speech “On the Sources of Energy in Nature Available to Man for the Production of Mechanical Effect’:
” … The subterranean coal stores of the world are becoming exhausted… and the price of coal is upward bound. When the coal is all burned… it is probable that windmills, or wind motors in some form, will again be in the ascendant… Even now it is not chimerical to think of wind superseding coal in some places for a very important part of its duty – that of giving light. Indeed, now that we have dynamos and Faure’s accumulator, the little want, to let the thing be done, is cheap windmills”
The magazine article continues:
“Every year since 1881 has seen new improvements in these machines, greater power and greater cheapness, until, at present, the application of wind power to the production of electricity has proved itself an assured economic success.”
Some things just don’t change….