Ratio Working Paper No. 320: Public policy failures related to China’s Wind Power Development

PublikationWorking paper
China, Economic Planning, Energy, Jonas Grafström, Soviet, Technology, Wind power
Ratio Working Paper No. 320
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An anecdote about the failure of the Soviet economic system tells about a factory which were evaluated based on tons of nails produced – unsurprisingly the nails became heavy. China is currently hailed as the worlds primer wind power producer; however, a closer examination reveals a string of policy failure making the Chinese wind power development resemble the infamous Soviet nail example. From a technological transition perspective, policy failures in China’s wind power program from 1980-2016 is documented and analysed. Five overarching topics are analysed including: Conflicting policies, quality problems, underwhelming technological development, lacking technological standards and insufficient grid transmission system. One conclusion is that when the Chinese government set a command and control target of how much new installed capacity that was going to be constructed the state utilities delivered to target but with an abundance of power plants without grid connectivity, severe quality problems and low technological development.

Grafström, J. (2019). China’s Public policy failures related to China’s Wind Power Development. Ratio Working Paper no. 320. Stockholm: Ratio.

Liknande innehåll

No evidence of counteracting policy effects on European solar power invention and diffusion.
Artikel (med peer review)Publikation
Grafström, J., & Poudineh, R.


Publicerat i

Energy Policy, 172, 113319.


In this paper, the questions of how support policies affect invention and diffusion of solar PV technology and whether the effect is heterogeneous and counteracting are investigated in order to help policy makers produce a better policy mix. The policies (and policy proxies) investigated are Feed-in-tariffs (FITs), Public R&D stock and flow, Environmental tax, and Environmental Policy Stringency Index. The policies are within the control of national government and no EU level policies are investigated. Evaluating policies on several dimensions is highly important since there is a risk that policies can promote one aspect of technological progress such as invention but derail diffusion. A Schumpeterian technological development approach is utilised on a panel dataset covering 23 European countries between 2000 and 2019. Two econometric approaches are employed, a negative binomial regression model is used to assess inventions and a panel data fixed effect regression is used for the diffusion model. The empirical findings suggest that no counteracting policy effects were present.

An Anatomy of Failure – Wind Power Development in China
Artikel (med peer review)Publikation
Grafström, J.



China is currently the world’s largest installer of wind power. However, with twice the installed wind capacity compared to the United States in 2015, the Chinese produce less power. The question is: Why is this the case? This article shows that Chinese grid connectivity is low, Chinese firms have few international patents, and that export is low even though production capacity far exceeds domestic production needs. Using the tools of Austrian economics, China’s wind power development from 1980 to 2016 is documented and analyzed from three angles: (a) planning and knowledge problems, (b) unproductive entrepreneurship, and (c) bureaucracy and government policy. From a theoretical standpoint, both a planning problem and an entrepreneurial problem are evident where governmental policies create misallocation of resources and a hampering of technological development.

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