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Storing wind power

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 hour.

     From 1891 to his death in 1908, Poul la Cour systematically researched how wind power could support his social vision. The biggest challenge was storing wind power for use on days when the wind was not blowing. When he came up with the idea to solve this problem, he asked the Finance Committee of the Danish Parliament for money to build a test turbine at Askov. In 1891, the turbine was ready and the tests started.
The rotation of the blades drove a dynamo, which converted the energy of the wind into electricity. The electricity was directed to a tub of water where it split the water molecules into oxygen and hydrogen gas, which were then separately collected in tanks. At first, la Cour used the gas for lighting buildings such as the Askov Folk High School.  He later he discovered the gases could also be used for autogenous welding, and for a time he was a leader in this field.
All of his life, Poul la Cour looked for 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. In the end, however, la Cour concluded 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.