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This Month in Renewable Energy History: December Edition

Throughout history, the month of December has witnessed commendable achievements, innovations, and milestones that have left an enduring mark on the renewable energy industry. Let’s journey through time and celebrate some key events.

1991: The UK’s First Commercial Wind Farm Commences Operations

Situated in Delabole, Cornwall, the Delabole onshore wind farm celebrates its 32nd anniversary this month. Proposed by landowner Peter Edwards, also known as the ‘grandfather of the UK wind industry’, he chose to invest in wind turbines instead of a nuclear power plant. He then went on to erect the first turbines after going on an anti-nuclear march. By its 25th anniversary in 2016, the wind farm had produced enough power to boil 3.5 billion kettles.

In 2002, Good Energy acquired the wind farm, providing essential funding to replace the original turbines with four 2300 kW turbines and optimise the site's output. The site now produces twice as much energy, enough to power approximately 6,400 homes.

During the wind farm’s lifetime, Good Energy has committed to contributing at least £9,200 annually to a local community fund, with grants being allocated to various local community groups and projects. These include a new outdoor play area for a local school and the installation of solar panels on the clubhouse roof of Delabole’s Cricket Club.

1982: Long-Distance Solar Powered Car Completes Historic Transcontinental Trip

The Quiet Achiever, the world’s first practical long-distance solar-powered car, completed its first transcontinental journey, covering over 4,000 kilometres from Perth in Western Australia to Sydney in the East in 20 days.

Costing $15,000 to build, the vehicle is made of fibreglass on a lightweight steel framework. The project was sponsored by BP, which supplied the 720 solar cells used to power the vehicle. These cells charged two 12-volt automotive batteries that, in turn, powered a 24-volt, one-horsepower electric motor. The historic journey gave rise to the World Solar Challenge, an annual event where individuals from around the globe build their own solar vehicles to traverse a 3,000 kilometre course from Darwin in the North to Adelaide in the South.

1980: World’s First Wind Farm Installed

US Wind power, later rebranded as Kenetech, established the world's first wind farm by installing 20 30kWh wind turbines on the slopes of Crotched Mountain in southern New Hampshire. An edition of the US magazine Farm Show from that period reported that the wind farm's generation equated to replacing 5,000 barrels of oil per year.

The wind farm was a pilot project by graduates from the University of Massachusetts and was financed entirely with private money. Unfortunately, with no additional funding from private investors, the wind farm was dismantled two years later.