Wind energy - Furling

One of the problems with windmills is the wind. Too much of it can turn a DIY windmill rapidly back into the junk from whence it came.

Wind is the enemy of the windmill. Who'd have thought it. When there is too much wind one of several things can happen depending on the application. You can generate too much electricity and over cook your batteries, you can pump too much water and all your cows get bloated or something, you can grind so much flour that you feel a bit like a magician's apprentice with all the bucket work you find yourself having to do, or the whole shebang can just blow over and come crashing down on your neighbour's chicken coop causing an unnecessary spike in insurance premiums.

"But humans have opposable thumbs, the Apollo missions, monorails, trans fats, canned cheese, and Oprah, so surely we have a solution." I hear you exclaim.

And, luckily for me, it seems we do.

The solution is furling.

Generally speaking, "furling" describes turning your windmill away from the wind when the wind gets too strong.

If my memory of my grade 4 project serves me, rather than furling their windmills, historically the Dutch used cloth sails over the wooden frames of their windmill blades. If there was a storm, the sails could be adjusted or in the worst case would just blow out and no damage would be done to the main structure of the windmill. The sails could be adjusted in varying winds to maintain a reasonably constant speed of the grinding wheel or pump.

So, short of the old Dutch option of risking partial destruction, it seems there are a few other methods of furling we might employ to automatically regulate a windmill when it's humans are absent. 

I'll cover them each in detail at some stage. Some of them are particularly clever. 

In fact, I've turned fractionally greener than my regular shade of envy as a result of learning just how clever the simple solutions that these inventors have found really are.

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