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

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.

Ratio Working Paper No. 347: A review of problems associated with learning curves for solar and wind power technologies
Working paperPublikation
Grafström, J. & Poudineh, R.


Publicerat i

Ratio Working Paper


The learning curve concept, which relates historically observed reductions in the cost of a technology to the number of units produced or the capacity cumulatively installed, has been widely adopted to analyse the technological progress of renewable resources, such as solar PV and wind power, and to predict their future penetration. Learning curves were originally an empirical tool to evaluate learning-by-doing in manufacturing, and the jump to analysis of country-level technological change in renewable energy is an extension that requires careful consideration. This paper provides a review of the problems associated with learning curves for solar and wind power technologies. Issues such as whether the past cost reductions affect the future, learning curve specification problems, changing price ratios and econometric issues are discussed. Learning curves have a place in research, but there are several pitfalls that researchers should be careful not to overlook.

Mer för mindre? Tillväxt och hållbarhet i Sverige
Grafström, J. & Sandström, C.


Publicerat i

Går det att förena ekonomisk tillväxt med hållbar utveckling? Den här boken beskriver hur miljöskadliga utsläpp och användningen av naturresurser i Sverige har förändrats över tid. Sedan 1990 har Sveriges befolkning ökat med drygt 1,6 miljoner och ekonomin nästan fördubblats. Samtidigt har koldioxidutsläppen minskat med 27 procent mellan åren 1990 och 2018, konsumtionen av el, vatten och energi har stått still vilket innebär att ekonomin är nästan dubbelt så effektiv. Av de 26 luftföroreningar Naturvårdsverket mätt sedan 1990 har 24 gått ner fram till 2017. I många fall har det skett mer än en halvering.

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