French Water-Pumping Windmills and Éolienne Bollée

By Paul Gipe

In the research for my forthcoming book, Wind Energy for the Rest of Us, I came across a lot of intriguing information about the development of wind energy. While fascinating, much of it is too far afield for one book on wind energy. So I am posting these items on my web site so they’re searchable–by me as well as others.

An example is the French water-pumping windmill the Éolienne Bollée built in the mid to late 19th century. It’s unusual in many respects. Most apparent is the fixed multiblade impeller not unlike that found on Francis hydroelectric turbines. Inventors frequently take this approach. It worked for hydro so it should work for water, right? Not quite.

Nevertheless, the turbine has engendered almost a cult following. There’s a web site devoted to Éolienne Bollée and nearly a dozen listed on the Éolienne Bollée page maintained by the Fédération des Moulins de France.

Des Amis de Éolienne Bollée (Friends of the Éolienne Bollée) maintain a page devoted to other French water-pumping windmills that rivaled Éolienne Bollée in the water-pumping market.

There’s also a page devoted to Éolienne Bollée on Wikipedia.