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The social vision

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 the industrialization, which drew many people from the countryside into town. Maybe the Folk High School should help its students remain in the countryside. Life was hard in the cities. A strike or a company collapse could create a poverty level that did not exist in the countryside where life also could be tough.
Was it possible to modernize life in the countryside and make it attractive for young people? La Cour knew that electricity was the key to the future. He even wrote a children’s book about the magnificent servant ­of electricity.
Utilities were being installed in many of the large towns but as the electricity was direct current, it could not supply rural areas.

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.

     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, working during the long dark winter evenings.
This was what motivated Poul la Cour to develop an electricity producing wind turbine being more efficient than the others of its time.
La Cour used the test turbine in Askov to demonstrate how an utility could be installed in a small community. For sparsely populated areas, he worked on an ideal farm wind turbine.
Because of Poul la Cour’s work, small utilities began to appear in villages, and 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, however. Poul la Cour’s solution was to found the Society of Wind Electricians on 28 October 1903, which had an office in the test turbine buildings at Askov.
The society functioned as a consultant when new utilities were constructed, and started an education program for rural electricians that had a significant effect on the expansion of electricity service in the rural areas. The electricians took a three-month course at the test turbine in Askov. In addition to instructions in basic installation, the students were taught accounting, geometry and physics, as well as German and Danish.

The cover of Journal of Wind Electricity. Notice the technically inspired ornamentation

The Society of Wind Electricians was one of the main reasons for the early decentralized 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 High Current Commission, whose mandate was to establish a national grid.
In 1904, Journal of Wind Electricity was published for the first time. The editor was Poul la Cour.