A time ago when the world showed golden promise for me I was amazed at the manner in which a dynamo attached to the wheel of a bicycle could produced light. I am sure I tried to take a dynamo apart. If I understood the process which produced that light I would have gone on and become a scientist. Every turbine in the world is based on the same principle, which generated light on bicycles long ago.
Close to where I write stands a domestic windmill. I stop and look at it. It is like a wind cock and turns into the wind. On days when the wind is about it turns and generates electricity. When I look at it I look at the future. The winds, which blows down the hill to Rathbawn has the potential to create light and heat. When we have control of these things we have control of the life and the conditions of life.
As they become popular and popular they will become the government will tax the energy. It follows as night follows day for government coffers have to be filled.
I was always impressed by the windmills on Lanzarote. The history of the island is interesting and the people there have never been adverse to work or ideas. Thus when they needed energy they turned to the wind as the following excerpt shows.
The island of Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, has limited natural sources of energy - it has no running streams and no woodland for example.
What it does have however is ample wind, and for centuries the island has used wind power both to grind grain, and to pump water. Recently the use has extended further to include electricity generation.
There are thus a number of distinct types of windmill to be found on the island: traditional squat tower mills, open wooden tressle mills, wind pumps, used to pump water around the saltpans, modern turbines for generating electricity.
They are all over the island and even in the very centre of industrial estates. They turn and turn in hypnotic movement like the great wind turbines turn on the hills to the west of Castlebar.
We have all heard the phrase that someone is tilting at windmills. Believe it or not the reference is associated with the greatest book in Spanish Literature. It was written by Miguel de Cervantes who lived between 1547 and 1616. He was a Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright. His greatest works Don Quixote, often considered the first modern novel, is a classic of Western literature, and is regarded amongst the best works of fiction ever written.
His work is often considered amongst the most important works in all of Western literature. If a remark which Cervantes himself makes in the prologue of Don Quixote is to be taken literally, the idea of the work occurred to him in prison at Argamasilla de Alba in La Mancha. The central character is Don Quixote, a nobleman, slightly deranged and out of sorts with the world. In one of the great incidents of the novel he tilts at windmills.
It begins in this manner. I give the Spanish and then the translation.
En un lugar de la Mancha, de cuyo nombre no quiero acordarme, no hace mucho tiempo que vivía un hidalgo de los de lanza en astillero, adarga antigua, rocín flaco y galgo corredor.
In a place of La Mancha, whose name I would not like to remember, there lived, not very long ago, one of those gentlemen with a lance in the lance-rack, an ancient shield, a skinny old hack, and a fast greyhound.
With this opening we are launched into the great novel.
And here he prepares to attach a windmill. Beside him is his small fat servant who has some sense and represents the practical things of life. He is the worrier and his master is the confused warrior.
Sancho Panza: It's a windmill.
Don Quixote: A giant. Canst thou not see the four great arms whirling at his back?
Sancho Panza: A giant?
Don Quixote: Exactly.
Don Quixote: (about to attack the windmill) Ho, there, foul monster! Cease the knocking at thy craven knees and prepare to do battle!
Sancho Panza: (nearly simultaneously) Your Grace, I swear by my wife's little black moustache that's not a giant, it's only a...
(with a yell, Don Quixote charges off).
I read the novel when I was young and I will not read it again.
Now that oil is running out we will return to wind and wave. We should have begun this a long time ago. When we do we will be the richer and more independent as a result and as yet the government has not found a way to sell off our wind and wave power. They have sold off everything else.
The windmills will return, newly designed. No matter what design the engineers design the windmills must have great blades. They will turn and harvest the wind.