Poul la Cour

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Electricity has taken over.

Electricity has replaced the horse at the threshing machine.
     La Cour performed his wind turbine tests in the 1890s primarily for social reasons. New inventions like the steam turbine and other electrical applications started an industrialisation which drew many people from the country into town. Maybe the Folk High School should help its students remain in the country. Life was hard in the cities. A strike or a company collapse could create a poverty level that did not exist in the country where life also could be tough.
     Was it possible to modernise life in the country and make it seem attractive for young people? La Cour knew that electricity was the path of the future. He even wrote a children’s book about our magnificent servant ­ electricity.
    Electricity plants were being installed in many of the large towns but as the electricity was direct current it was not possible to supply the rural areas.
     Poul la Cour also wanted the rural population to benefit from the electricity. The plan was to ease the farm labour and make it more efficient and to provide light for reading and working on the long dark winter evenings.
     This was what motivated Poul la Cour to develop a windmill that was more efficient than the others of its time and that could produce electricity.
     La Cour used the test turbine in Askov to demonstrate how an electricity plant could be installed in a small community. For the sparsely populated areas, he worked on an ideal farm wind turbine.
     As a result of Poul la Cours work, small electricity plants began to appear in villages, on farms and dairies.
    The lack of knowledge and understanding of electricity and the scarcity of educated people slowed down electricity installation in the rural communities. Poul la Cour therefore founded the Society of Wind Electricians on 28 October 1903 which had an office in the test turbine buildings at Askov.
    The society functioned as consultants when new electricity plants where constructed but it also started an education for rural electricians that had a significant effect on the spreading of electricity in the rural areas. The electricians took a three-month course at the test turbine in Askov. Apart from instructions in basic installation, the students were taught accountancy, geometry, physics and the languages German and Danish.
The participants of the first course in wind electricity.

The participants of the first course in wind electricity held by the Society of Wind Electricians in May and June 1904.

Poul la Cour is seated in the middle row as the first from the left.

The Society of Wind Electricians was one of the main reasons for the early decentralised electricity network in Denmark which later developed into a central high voltage grid. In the last years of his life, Poul la Cour was the chairman of the Heavy Current Commission whose job was to establish a national grid.

In 1904, Journal of Wind Electricity was published for the first time. The editor was Poul la Cour.
Journal of Wind Electricity.

The cover of Journal of Wind Electricity.

Notice the technically inspired ornamentation.

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