Building a Nationa...

Building a National Wind Turbine Industry

Experience from China, India and South Korea by Dr. Joanna Lewis

Georgetown University's Dr.Joanna Lewis recently visited the World Bank to share her research on the strategies used by wind power technology companies in China, India and South Korea to develop wind turbine technology. She reviewed the evolution and current status of wind power development in each country and the current industry leaders, presented on how these companies acquired the technological know-how and intellectual property rights and assessed the outlook for the future development of the Chinese, Indian and Korean wind power industries. The wind industry is an important source of "lessons learned" for the Climate Technology Program since clean wind technologies are already largely deployed to scale.

On June 16, 2010, the Cleantech Practice Group (GICT) hosted Dr. Joanna Lewis (Georgetown University – School of Foreign Service) to share research on the strategies used by wind power technology companies in China, India and South Korea to develop wind turbine technology.

A desert wind turbine installation

Photo: Igor Srdanovic, CC BY-NC-SA

A desert wind turbine installation.

Lewis reviewed the evolution and current status of wind power development in China, India and South Korea and current industry leaders such as Suzlon (India), Goldwind (China), and Hyndai, Doosan and Daewoo (South Korea). Lewis next elaborated that three particular technology development models can explain how various developing companies acquire technical wind power know-how and intellectual property rights—licensing, mergers and acquisitions (M&As), and joint development. The strategic placement of Research and Development (R&D) centers around the globe has also helped with technology transfer (e.g. the construction of a wind R&D lab in Denmark allowed Suzlon to tap into local expertise built up from years of industry experience). The domestic and international contexts in which these companies operate also shape their technology development strategies.  South Korea, for example, has used a very different approach to developing their wind industry. Owing to their late entry into the industry and their lack of on-shore resources, South Korea has jumped straight into the newest technology development methods – joint development to employ the newest wind technologies.

The rapid and widespread development of Chinese, and Indian wind power industries should be noted as an example of substantial technical advances in a short period of time. Lewis derives several positive implications for leapfrog technologies, noting in particular that tapping into global learning/innovation networks can be highly valuable. In India, Suzlon's network of strategically positioned global subsidiaries contributes to its base of industry knowledge and technical capacity. In China, Goldwind has recognized this value and is expanding its own international activities. Korean firms are looking globally for technology partnerships in order to access export markets outside of their own relatively small domestic markets.

The wind industry is an interesting renewable energy technology case study because wind energy is already deployed to scale. Hence, there are good lessons to be learned for other renewable energy industries that have not yet reached large-scale deployment.

Lewis’ research is particularly relevant for infoDev’s Climate Technology Program. The Climate Technology Program looks to establish a global network of “Climate Innovation Centers (CICs)” to support the development, deployment and transfer of locally relevant climate technologies in developing countries. CICs can support local climate technology innovation capacity through targeted, country-driven approaches that allow developing countries to overcome the challenges of adapting, commercializing and scaling-up climate technologies for widespread deployment.

For more research details, consult Joanna Lewis’ new paper, "Building a National Wind Turbine Industry: Experiences from China, India and South Korea," to be published in late June -

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