It's been a good few months for the global wind energy industry with governments and investors working together to create a fair wind (sorry) for the sector.
In the UK, the wind industry's dominance of the renewables sector has never looked more secure with the government confirming last month that wind will form the centre piece of its renewables strategy over the next decade, the north east fast emerging as global hub for the sector, the planning problems that have dogged both large and small scale projects apparently beginning to recede, and the flagship Thames Array project back on track after Shell's exit.
There is little doubt the sector is set to enjoy a bumper decade or two, but looking further into the future it is possible to detect some storm clouds on the horizon (I'll stop the weak weather references now, promise).
The problem hinges on the simple question of what do you do when the wind stops blowing.
I'm not suggesting, like Jeremy Clarkson and his acolytes, that the problem of reliability makes turbines worthless. The accuracy of modern wind profiling and site selection coupled with the ability to limit the risk posed by still conditions by developing a network of wind farms so huge that it is highly unlikely all the turbines will stop turning at the same time means the case for turbines remains a strong one.
But that said the inherent issue of reliability means that wind will always be vulnerable to being displaced by the emergence of renewable energy technologies that offer a more predictable flow of energy.
Two projects, both still in the earliest stages of development, underlined this reality this week.
The proposals for a tidal barrage or fence across the Severn Estuary which were published this week may all end up proving much more expensive than wind farms, but the sheer amount of energy it could tap - enough to meet five per cent of the UK's electricity needs, apparently - and the day in day out predictability of that energy make the project extremely attractive.
Similarly, the hugely ambitious proposals for a string of solar farms across North Africa and the Middle East capable of providing energy to all of Europe would not come cheap, particularly when the entire continent's energy grid would need converting to high voltage direct current cables. But again the reliability of the Saharan sun makes the concept difficult to ignore as the potential long term solution to Europe's energy problems.
Wind would play its part in such a project with offshore wind farms in the North Sea and geothermal power stations in Iceland also feeding into the grid, but solar would surely enjoy the lion's share.
In fact, even if the plans for African solar farms die a death in the corridors of Brussels the wind sector can expect to face increased competition from solar as panels become steadily cheaper and more efficient. This is particularly true in the microgeneration space where the emergence of solar roofs, walls and windows appear a much better bet than the much criticised mini turbines.
This is not to suggest the medium term outlook for the wind sector is anything other than rosy. Wind turbines will maintain the cost advantage they enjoy over most other renewables for a good few years yet and once governments have backed a technology as they have done with wind they tend to be very slow to shift their allegiance.
But there remains a very real chance that wind turbines could ultimately prove themselves the video recorders of renewable energy - a stop gap technology, destined to enjoy several decades of complete dominance before ultimately being edged out by a superior alternative.
Right, I'm off to try and get my hands on a Canadian visa.
Have a good weekend,
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