Windmills are one of the cultural features of the Netherlands because it has the most windmills in the world. So, why does the Netherlands have many windmills than other countries and how do Dutch windmills work?
Why Does The Netherlands Have Many Windmills Than Other Nations?
First of all, there aren’t any hills or mountains in the country, so people couldn’t utilize water mills to power machinery before (steam) engines were developed.
In addition, the Netherlands has a sizable portion 26% below sea level. Low-lying regions (polders) must be continuously pumped with water to keep them dry. Wind energy was the only source strong and dependable enough to accomplish this on the required scale prior to steam and electricity.
How Does A Dutch Windmill Work?
The wind rotates the blades. A massive center vertical axis rotates as a result. To change the direction of rotation depending on what you want to use the energy for, there are enormous wooden gears inside. The windmills are also used for milling grains, so the big central vertical axis movement is transferred through gears to turn a milling stone inside on the lower level of the windmill. Some are used for pumping water, so the windmill is next to water and the gears transfer the movement to a horizontal axis that turns a bucket pump that moves water from a lower to a higher level (there will be a dam wall in between the lower and higher level of water).
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Do Any Of The Countless Dutch Windmills Still Function?
They do, in fact, but almost exclusively for historical reasons.
Currently, our nation has roughly 1200 wind farms and about 100 water-powered farms. More than 10,000 of them were still in use almost a century ago. Prior to the British, who followed with the introduction of steam, the Dutch began an industrial revolution on the basis of wind power. They were employed as sawmills, grain mills, and, of course, water pumps to remove water from our polders in order to reclaim and preserve fresh land.
The polders must remain completely dry, which depends entirely on the water pumping mills. They would drown if they ever stopped pumping. Evidently, they no longer rely on wind-powered pumps to keep them dry. To observe how it was done in the past, you may still locate thousands of historic windmills along some dikes that are still operational and meticulously maintained. However, they are no longer actually required. Nowadays, modern pumping stations do the bulk of the work, but they still like to have them around for historical reasons. They are helpful for tourism, but that is not the primary reason they are kept up (although it is what keeps them profitable of course). They take great pride in being a very early illustration of a contemporary, industrialized, pre-steam economy.