Albert Betz was a German physicist and a pioneer of wind turbine technology. Betz was born in Schweinfurt in Bavaria in 1885. After graduating as a naval engineer in 1910, Betz became a researcher at the University of Göttingen aerodynamics laboratory in 1911. He was awarded a PhD in 1919 for his work on ship propellers. Betz published two influential pieces of work on wind power in power in the 1920s. His first was a paper named the ‘Theoretical Limit for Best Utilization of Wind by Wind Motors.’ This provided the foundation for Betz’s Law, which stated that, independent of the design of a wind turbine, only 59% of the kinetic energy of the wind can be converted to mechanical energy. This would play a huge part in the future of wind turbine development.
His second piece of work was a book published in 1926 named ‘Wind Energy and its Use by Windmills.’ This offered an overall understanding of wind energy and wind turbines in this period. In the same year, Betz became a professor at Göttingen and later became the director of the Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt in 1936. He held this position until 1956. Three years after he gave up his position as the director of the Aerodynamische Versuchsanstalt, Betz passed away. Betz’s work was key to the development of wind turbines as his law provided an understanding the efficiency of a turbine and the maximum amount of wind that a turbine could use. In addition to this, his work pre-empted some of the key characteristics in wind turbines.
Paul Gipe (author, advocate and analyst of the renewable energy sector) has written a short article on Betz’s publications: Betz’s “Wind-Energy and its use by Windmills” 1926 – WIND WORKS (wind-works.org)