Energy and the Industrial Revolution
For years historians have sought to identify crucial elements in the eighteenth-century rise in industry, technology, and economic power Known as the Industrial Revolution, and many give prominence to the problem of energy. Until the eighteenth century, people relied on energy derived from plants as well as animal and human muscle to provide power Increased efficiency in the use of water and wind helped with such tasks as pumping, milling, or sailing. However, by the eighteenth century, Great Britain in particular was experiencing an energy shortage. Wood, the primary source of heat for homes and industries and also used in the iron industry as processed charcoal, was diminishing in supply. Great Britain had large amounts of coal; however, there were not yet efficient means by which to produce mechanical energy or to power machinery. This was to occur with progress in the development of the steam engine.
In the late 1700s James Watt designed an efficient and commercially viable steam engine that was soon applied to a variety of industrial uses as it became cheaper to use. The engine helped solve the problem of draining coal mines of groundwater and increased the production of coal needed to power steam engines elsewhere. A rotary engine attached to the steam engine enabled shafts to be turned and machines to be driven, resulting in mills