1950-1955 : prototypes


1950-1955 : The prototypes
The choice of the site
EDF or BEST photographs
Access to the site
Establishment of the site
The team
Design features
The wind turbine commented
Sights on the wind turbine
Close-ups on the wind turbine
The measuring station
Tilting the wind turbine
1959: Record of production
Disassembling the generator
Some figures
1966: the scraping
What is left of the wind turbine?
Great power wind turbines
Where are the archives?
Lucien Romani
L. Romani & l'O.N.E.R.A.
Rauline Report and the N.A.S.A.
French wind links
Legal notice
Site map
Who am I?

From the end of the forties, Lucien Romani had approached the Institut Aerotechnique (IAT) of Saint-Cyr l'Ecole (Yvelines) where my father worked (aerial view of the site today).

General view of the Institut AéroTechnique de Saint-Cyr l'Ecole circa 1931-1932.

Aerial view of the IAT circa 1931-1932.

This small wind energy research station had two purposes:

  • To test wind turbines.
  • To develop means of measuring the performance of the future wind turbine at Nogent-le-Roi, which involved research into the structure of the moving air.

Several models of small wind turbines were tested on metal towers. The last one was the BEST-Romani 10 KVA wind generator.

Not only wind turbines were tested here:

  • The CDC - Ailleret anemometer stood at the top of the highest of the three towers, testifying to the interest that the Polytechnician Pierre Ailleret had in the study of winds long before he took over the Direction of Studies and Research of Electricité de France (there is a room Pierre Ailleret at EDF R&D in Clamart).
  • the Romani anemometer, whose sensor was a striated vertical cylinder mechanically linked to a balance equipped with strain gauges introduced into a "Wheatstone bridge" type electrical circuit.
  • Cheap cups anemometers counting the number of revolutions of the butterfly system. These anemometers were distributed to willing volunteers: schoolteachers, town hall secretaries, etc., who agreed to devote part of their time to taking readings (most of them were already equipped with mini-weather stations and sent their measurements to the Office National Météorologique in Trappes).

The research station was also used to develop measuring gauges coupled with recorders using the Poggendorff method (measurement by opposition).

These devices required controls, developments or calibration within the precincts of the research station itself or in the wind tunnel of the close Institut Aerotechnique.

On the first of January 1955, my father was recruited by the BEST and his first tasks were to monitor this wind generator and the measuring equipment, which he measured daily.

Models derived from the BEST-Romani experimental wind generator (10 KVA) were produced by the Aérowatt company and equipped the Service des Phares et Balises as well as the Paul-Emile Victor weather stations in Terre-Adélie. There is some doubt about the links between BEST and Aérowatt. According to André Argand, Head of the Wind Energy Division at EDF's Direction des Etudes et Recherches, Aérowatt would have been a subsidiary of the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique and BEST would have had a share in it. However, this claim could not be verified. The fact is that when Aérowatt's wind turbines experienced technical problems, it was often BEST's engineers and technicians who intervened (notably the Sept Iles lighthouse, off Ploumanac'h).

The company Aérowatt was bought by Marc Vergnet's Société Vergnet SA which still manufactures and sells wind turbines under this brand.


General view of the station and its three pylons.
On the right a building of the Institut Aérotechnique de Saint-Cyr.

In front of the wind generator (middle pylon), two small buildings, one of which housed the BEST research room.x
During the Second World War, of these two buildings, the one on the left was my father's home.
He lived there with his parents. The house was destroyed by an Allied bombing raid in the summer of 1944 without causing any casualties, as my family had taken shelter as soon as the alarm was raised. The vegetable garden and fruit trees planted by Pierre Jean Cavey during and just after the war can also be seen in the centre. My father also kept six beehives there for his account and that of a doctor from Saint-Cyr: Doctor Robert Mouton who gave birth to me.

In the foreground the dome of the test arena of the Institut Aérotechnique de Saint-Cyr l'Ecole.
On the left is a BEST anemometer tower. On that tower, an Ailleret anemometer can be seen on the middle pole (top).
In the background, the 10 KVA experimental wind generator.


A closer look at the 10 KVA wind generator.
The man standing just behind the pivot gives an idea of the size of this wind turbine.
The picture is taken from the highest tower, (halfway up).


View of the wind turbine taken from the top of the anemometer tower. The employee is next to the machine.
The allotment gardens can be seen below.
Photographs were taken in early 1956.

The CDC - Ailleret anemometer.
Its characteristic is to measure the theoretical wind energy per square meter (wind energy gauge).
Its inventor became Director of Studies and Research at EDF. His role in the construction of the Nogent-le-Roi wind turbine was decisive.

CIAMO wind generator of the Sept Iles lighthouse. Diameter 5.73 metres. Nominal power: 5 kW.
More about this on the french website « Le Chasse marée »

Real wind energy gauge designed by the company Aérowatt.
CIAMO (Compagnie Industrielle des AroMOteurs) wind turbine at the Charcot Station (Terre Adélie) powering a French Polar Expeditions weather station.
Photo was taken during the International Geophysique Year (July 1957 - December 1958).
(Click on the pictures to see them at their actual size).

Last update: Aug-29-2022 11:20:14 CEST
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