A new wind is blowing

Chinese wind turbines may not be as advanced in terms of technology as their overseas competitors’ but they are up to 30% cheaper. This explains partly how Chinese wind manufacturers emerged from nowhere – before 2006 there was no Chinese firm in the top 10 global manufacturers - and managed to capture a significant share in the world markets. Help from the government to develop “indigenous technology” and traditional market-for-technology probably explain the rest of the success.

In addition to selling turbines, a number of Chinese companies are taking further step by establishing themselves directly abroad. The Longyuan Power Group acquired rights to develop a 100 megawatt project in Canada. Sinowell just agreed on a EUR 1.5 billion investment to build a 1500 megawatt windfarm in Ireland and is exploring offshore farms in Greece. It is no surprise either that a couple of month ago, Sinovel released a 6 megawatt turbine prototype (with 128 meter blades in diameter) and announced it is working on a 10 megawatt turbine, the world’s largest.

The question now is how Western governments and companies can counter China’s succesful industrial policies.