Hermann Honnef was a German inventor and a visionary for the use of wind power for energy. At the age of fifteen, Honnef began an apprenticeship at the metalwork company Jacob Hilgers Bruckenbau in Rheinbrohl. By the age of seventeen, Honnef was a heading one of the company’s offices. At the same time, he attended school to expand his education in maths and mechanics, as well as French and English. After the First World War, Honnef founded his own company the Honner-Werke in Dinglinge in the South of Germany. The company employed upwards of five hundred skilled workers and fifty engineers that travelled Germany building cranes, bridges, and radio towers. In 1931, Honnef’s company went bankrupt, and he moved to Berlin. It was from this point that he became more invested in the use of wind power. In the 1930s, Honnef produced a number of publications on wind power plants and how they can contribute to the generation of electricity. In his 1932 book ‘Windkraft’ Honnef published his plans for plans for his turbines.
Honnef began the construction of a wind power test field in Bötzow on the Mathiasberg mountain range in 1941. By the end of the war in 1945, Honnef completed many tests on wind turbines with double rotors, with the largest system 15 kW. Unfortunately, a number of the turbines were dismantled after the war and were melted down.
Between 1925 and 1951, Herman Honnef had a total of 49 patents registered with the German Patent Office, of which thirty-eight relate to wind turbines. More recently, it has been discovered that although Honnef was not part of the Nazi party, he played on their ideological desire for technological dominance to further his plans to use wind power to create electricity. Despite this, Honnef’s ideas were dismissed after the war. In 1952 he was awarded the Great Federal Cross of Merit for his research by the then Federal President Theodor Heuss. Honnef passed away in 1961. Honnef’s position on wind power was clearly ahead of its time and he laid the foundations for other German engineers, such as Ulrich Hütter, to develop German wind energy.