In investigating the money trial involved with the NedPower project and parent Shell Wind (aka Royal Shell Oil) - I've become aware of the complete picture here that makes wind power so wonderfully attractive to Big Oil / Gas and Big Coal.
The picture unfolding is one of a technology that is just viable enough that it can hold attractions the public can buy into - but without actually being too good that it can displace the entrenched oil, gas and coal systems. Wind power generated is a ratio of the cube of the wind speed. Therefore much of the average power available to a wind turbines comes in short bursts instead of steady sustained power. Again this means a complimentary power source instead of a steady replacement one.
Further more it is a system that Big Oil in particular is well placed to essentially own a share of all aspects of its delivery chain - including manufacture of turbines, through delivery, construction and then maintenance of sites - so it can profit at all levels from the deployment of wind power systems.
A report commissioned by the Renewable Energy Policy Project (REPP) explores how existing State level engineering infrastructure can be extended to support turbine construction.
(see - http://www.repp.org/articles/static/1/binaries/WindLocator.pdf )
Clearly the power industry is seeing that conveniently the huge direct government construction subsidies can be used to not only fund the wind power generation projects but also provide the impetus for yet more money in direct State grants and tax incentives to establish a domestic turbine construction industry that is owned by a major stakeholding from Big Oil in particular.
Foreign investors and Big Oil companies such as Dutch Shell are not slow to see the potential in the US - http://www.ofii.org/newsroom/news/040924td.cfm
Put together this represents a huge "wind fall" for the power industry with almost no threat to their existing in-place energy systems.
Meanwhile the public is entraced by the apparent elegance of giant wind turbines and the clean image that is carefully projected through manipulation of the local levels of press news, articles and the deluge of "clean power" sites and slick media marketing messages.
One has to question that - if wind turbines could be made that were 5 times more efficient than those today - with an equivalent power storage system to also provide sustained power release - that truely could threaten to replace oil and coal power stations, then would we suddenly find that the support seen from the energy industry would quickly evaporate because all that oil, gas and coal purchasing would not be needed?
Then again, since we know that the theoretical analysis of turbine power generation ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Albert_Betz) shows that current systems are already reaching or are at the maximum attainable energy output, there is even more to like about wind power as a diminished threat to in-place electricity generation.
Arguments about the costs and returns meanwhile are also less than conclusive (http://www.sciencemag.org/cgi/eletters/294/5544/1000).
Overall Wind Power is so wonderful from the perspective of the energy industry no wonder they are falling over themselves to receive government funding to construct industrial wind mines.
Citizens may however be left wondering if they are receiving any kind of meaningful returns on their investment or any lasting benefits to the environment when less than a few percentage points of total power generation is being delivered this way?