New Discovery: Austrian Engineer Josef Friedländer installed the first wind generator in Vienna already in 1883
Bonn, 31 July 2023 (WWEA) – Mankind has been making use of the power of the wind for thousands of years. The first machines driven by wind in forms of wind mills were invented more than 1000 years ago, potentially even much earlier.
When human beings started to use electricity, several engineers in various countries began soon experiments how wind energy could be converted into electric energy. The origins of these efforts to generate electricity from wind mills date back into the 1880s, when electricity was about to become a common technology in many parts of the world.
In the last decades, wind technology has seen tremendous technological progress and has become a main pillar of the electricity supply in many countries around the world. End of 2022, wind turbines with an overall capacity of 934 Gigawatt were installed globally, and at this point of time, the global capacity is about to surpass 1 million Megawatts.
Wind power generation started in parallel in several countries and so far, historic research referred to pioneers in France, Scotland, Denmark and the USA. But more recent findings indicate that the world’s first functioning wind generator was installed, earlier than assumed, by the Austrian engineer Josef Friedländer in 1883, on the occasion of the International Electrical Exhibition held in Vienna in that year. The catalogue published on the occasion of this exhibition shows that the wind generator was located prominently in the entrance area of the exhibition site.
The American made wind engine, which looked more like a traditional wind mill, was driving a generator and, interestingly, unlike the more famous Danish engineer Paul la Cour few years later, Friedländer didn’t produce hydrogen but the wind generator was connected with accumulators – in other words: batteries.
The magazine of Austrian engineers and architects described the wind generator in its edition of 28 July 2023 as follows:
“The five-horse Halladay wind engine exhibited between the north gallery of the rotunda and the warehouse at the rear of the electric railway station by engineer Josef Friedländer for the accumulation of electrical energy by means of a small dynamo and accumulators (de Calo system) for the operation of a new threshing machine (Schuppisser patent), even when the engine is temporarily inactive.”
Stefan Gsänger, WWEA Secretary General: “The wind power industry and the whole sector has a proud history of at least 140 years. The importance and relevance of wind power has never been more relevant than today, in times of climate crisis and global energy access challenges. Remembering the spirit of pioneers such as Friedländer, Byth, Goyon or La Cour should encourage us to meet the remaining challenges for a renewable energy world in which wind power is a mainstay of energy supply. The milestone of achieving 1 million Megawatt will benefit citizens, communities, businesses, the whole world community – by mitigating the climate crisis and by allowing for a good life for all.”
Paul Gipe, wind energy expert and WWEA Board Member: “Now that wind energy is growing apace worldwide, the second 1 million MW will take far less time than the first. Wind energy has come of age.”
Paul Gipe, 25 July 2023: Austrian was First with Wind-Electric Turbine Not Byth or de Goyon
WOCHENSCHRIFT DES ÖSTERR. INGENIEUR- UND ARCHITEKTEN-VEREINES.
VIII. Jahrgang, Wien, Samstag den 28. Juli 1883. Nr. 30
Inhalt: Die internationale elektrische Ausstellung Wien 1883. I. (Organisation) und II. (Seilbahn mit elektrischem Antriebe). Von E.R. Leonhardt