Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
In This Section

Business and Politics

Editor-in-Chief: Aggarwal, Vinod K.

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2015: 0.384
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2015: 0.352
Impact per Publication (IPP) 2015: 0.459

See all formats and pricing
In This Section
Volume 16, Issue 4 (Dec 2014)


Industrial policy, politics and competition: Assessing the post-crisis wind power industry

Joanna I. Lewis
  • Corresponding author
  • Georgetown University – Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Washington, District of Columbia, USA
  • Email:
Published Online: 2014-10-24 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bap-2014-0012


Wind power remains one of the fastest growing energy sources in the world, even as countries have struggled to come back from the global economic crisis of 2008. Yet the sector’s rise has been the product of a crucial shift in how governments approach renewable energy. To build political support for wind power, governments have added industrial policy instruments to traditional renewable energy deployment mechanisms. This paper argues that we are witnessing a rise in protectionism in the wind power sector growing out of specific political and economic challenges at the national level that have arisen in the period following the 2008 crisis. In addition, this paper demonstrates that protectionism, justified by a rationale of promoting local economic development, takes many forms, and countries have come up with ever more varied and sophisticated methods of using industrial policy to establish and protect nascent, strategic industries. Finally, it challenges conventional wisdom that protectionism is reserved for the emerging economies as either a strategy to improve economic competitiveness or as a short cut to technological innovation. It demonstrates that while these strategies do indeed persist in emerging economies, North America and Western Europe continue to protect their own wind industries, even as they initiate disputes with countries for implementing similar measures.


  • Amsden, Alice H. 2001. The Rise of the Rest: Challenges to the West from Late-industrializing Economies. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Anadón, Laura Díaz. 2012. “Missions-oriented RD&D Institutions in Energy Between 2000 and 2010: A Comparative Analysis of China, the United Kingdom, and the United States.” Research Policy 41 (10): 1742–1756. [Crossref]

  • Atkinson, Robert D. 2012. Enough is Enough: Confronting Chinese Innovation Mercantilism. Washington, DC: The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://www2.itif.org/2012-enough-enough-chinese-mercantilism.pdf.

  • BTM and Navigant Research. 2013. International Wind Energy Development: World Market Update 2012. Denmark, U.K. and California, USA: Navigant Consulting.

  • Center for Economic Policy Research. 2013. “Global Trade Alert Database. Center for Economic Policy Research.” Accessed September 7, 2014. http://www.globaltradealert.org/.

  • China Greentech Initiative. 2009. The China Greentech Report 2009. The China Greentech Initiative.

  • Connor, Peter M. 2004. “National Innovation, Industrial Policy and Renewable Energy Technology.” Proceedings of the 2003 Conference on Government Intervention in Energy Markets, St. John’s College, Oxford.

  • Esty, Daniel C. 1994. Greening the GATT: Trade, Environment, and the Future. Washington, DC: Institute for International Economics.

  • European Commission. 2009. “European Commission: Investing Today for Tomorrow’s Energy.” Europa. Accessed April 29, 2013. http://europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-09-36_en.htm.

  • European Wind Energy Association. 2013. Where’s the Money Coming From? Financing Offshore Wind Farms. Brussels, Belgium: European Wind Energy Association. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://www.ewea.org/fileadmin/files/library/publications/reports/Financing_Offshore_Wind_Farms.pdf.

  • Global Wind Energy Council. 2013. Global Wind Status Report 2012. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://www.gwec.net/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/GWEC-PRstats-2012_english.pdf.

  • Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) and International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). 2012. 30 Years of Policies for Wind Energy: Lessons from 12 Wind Energy Markets. Abu Dhabi, UAE: IRENA.

  • Hinman, Jeffry S. 2009. “The Green Economic Recovery: Wind Energy Tax Policy After Financial Crisis and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Tax Act of 2009.” Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation 24 (35): 35–74.

  • Howse, Robert. 2002. “The Appellate Body Rulings in the Shrimp/Turtle Case: A New Legal Baseline for the Trade and Environment Debate.” Columbia Journal of Environmental Law 27: 491–516.

  • HSBC Global Research. 2009. Building a Green Recovery. London: HSBC.

  • Hubbard, Glenn P., and Peter Navarro. 2010. Seeds of Destruction: Why the Path to Economic Ruin Runs Through Washington, and How to Reclaim American Prosperity. Upper Saddle River, NJ: FT Press.

  • ICTSD. 2012. “WTO Panel Hearing: Canada Defends Feed-in Tariff as Necessary Govt Procurement.” International Centre for Trade and Sustainable Development. Accessed April 16, 2012. http://ictsd.org/i/news/bridgesweekly/129972/.

  • ICTSD. n.d. “WTO Dispute Panel Rules Against Canada in Renewables Case.” Bridges Weekly Trade News Digest 13 (1). Accessed April 26, 2013. http://ictsd.org/i/news/biores/152926/.

  • IEA/IRENA. 2012. IEA/IRENA Global Renewable Energy Policies and Measures Database. Accessed April 12, 2012. http://www.iea.org/textbase/pm/?mode=re.

  • Janzen, Bernd G. 2010. “The Cleantech Subsidy Wave: A New Source of Trade Conflicts?” International Law News 39 (3): 1–4.

  • King, Ed. 2013. “China’s Emissions Trading Scheme in Line for 2020 Launch.” Responding to Climate Change (RTCC). Accessed April 29, 2013. http://www.rtcc.org/chinas-emissions-trading-scheme-in-line-for-2020-launch/.

  • Lee, Keun, and Chaisung Kim. 2001. “Technological Regimes, Catching Up, and Leapfrogging: Findings from the Korean Industries.” Research Policy 30 (3): 459–483. [Crossref]

  • Lewis, Joanna I. 2004. “Conceding Too Much? Conflicts between the Government and Developers in Promoting the China ‘Wind Concession’ Project Model.” In Proceedings of the Eighth World Renewable Energy Congress. Denver, CO.

  • Lewis, Joanna I. 2007. A Comparison of Wind Power Industry Development Strategies in Spain, India and China. Prepared by the Center for Resource Solutions for the Energy Foundation’s China Sustainable Energy Program.

  • Lewis, Joanna I. 2009. Can Green Sunrise Industries Lead the Drive into Recovery? The Case of the Wind Power Industry in China and India. United Nations Industrial Development Organization Working Paper 20/2009. Vienna: UNIDO.

  • Lewis, Joanna I. 2013. Green Innovation in China: China’s Wind Power Industry and the Global Transition to a Low-carbon Economy. New York: Columbia University Press.

  • Lewis, Joanna I. 2014. “The Rise of Renewable Energy Protectionism: Emerging Trade Conflicts and Implications for Low Carbon Development.” Global Environmental Politics 14 (4) (forthcoming). [Crossref]

  • Lewis, Joanna I., and Ryan H. Wiser. 2007. “Fostering a Renewable Energy Technology Industry: An International Comparison of Wind Industry Policy Support Mechanisms.” Energy Policy 35 (3): 1844–1857. [Crossref]

  • Ma, Damien, and Will Pearson. 2010. “Green-Collar Politics: Perils and Opportunities for South Korea in the Green-Tech Race.” Korea Economic Institute Academic Paper Series 5 (12): 1–9.

  • Mayda, Anna Maria, and Dani Rodrik. 2001. Why Are Some People (and Countries) More Protectionist Than Others? Working Paper. National Bureau of Economic Research. Accessed September 1, 2014. http://www.nber.org/papers/w8461.

  • McCabe, Jess. 2010. “Wind Power Projects Affected by Financial Crisis.” OilPrice. Accessed April 14, 2013. http://oilprice.com/Alternative-Energy/Wind-Power/Wind-Power-Projects-Affected-By-Financial-Crisis.html.

  • Office of the United States Trade Representative. 2011. “China Ends Wind Power Equipment Subsidies Challenged by the United States in WTO Dispute.” Office of the United States Trade Representative. Accessed September 15, 2011. http://www.ustr.gov/about-us/press-office/press-releases/2011/june/china-ends-wind-power-equipment-subsidies-challenged.

  • Peters, Alan, and Peter Fisher. 2004. “The Failures of Economic Development Incentives.” Journal of the American Planning Association 70 (1): 27–37. [Crossref]

  • Porter, Michael E. 2000. “Location, Competition, and Economic Development: Local Clusters in a Global Economy.” Economic Development Quarterly 14 (1): 15–34. [Crossref]

  • Qi, Wu. 2013. “China’s Wind Sector Lost $1.6 Billion in 2012.” Windpower Monthly. Accessed April 29, 2013. http://www.windpowermonthly.com/article/1168216/Chinas-wind-sector-lost-16-billion-2012.

  • REN21. 2011. Renewables Global Status Report 2011. Paris: REN21 Secretariat. Accessed January 2, 2011. http://www.ren21.net/Portals/97/documents/GSR/REN21_GSR2011.pdf.

  • REN21. 2012. Renewables Global Status Report 2012. Paris: REN21 Secretariat. Accessed January 2, 2011. http://www.ren21.net/Portals/97/documents/GSR/REN21_GSR2011.pdf.

  • Robertson, Paul L., and Richard N. Langlois. 1995. “Innovation, Networks, and Vertical Integration.” Research Policy 24 (4): 543–562. [Crossref]

  • Schuman, Sara. 2010. Improving China’s Existing Renewable Energy Legal Framework: Lessons from the International and Domestic Experience. White Paper. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

  • Sjolin, Sarah. 2012. “Europe Debt Crisis: A Blow to the Wind Industry.” MarketWatch. Accessed April 14, 2013. http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-05-02/industries/31525735_1_offshore-wind-power-wind-power-industry-wind-industry.

  • State Council of the PRC. 2005.

    [Renewable Energy Law of the People’s Republic of China]. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://www.gov.cn/ziliao/flfg/2005-06/21/content_8275.htm.

  • Stokes, Leah C. 2013. “The Politics of Renewable Energy Policies: The Case of Feed-in Tariffs in Ontario, Canada.” Energy Policy 56: 490–500. [Crossref]

  • Sugathan, Mahesh, and Ricardo Melendez-Ortiz. 2011. Fostering Low Carbon Growth: The Case for a Sustainable Energy Trade Agreement. Geneva, Switzerland: ICTSD. Accessed January 2, 2012. http://ictsd.org/i/publications/117557/?view=details.

  • Trabish, Herman K. 2013. “New Trends in Financing Wind.” Greentech Media. Accessed September 1, 2014. http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/new-trends-in-financing-wind.

  • United Steelworkers. 2010. “United Steelworkers’ Section 301 Petition Demonstrates China’s Green Technology Practices Violate WTO Rules,” September 9. Available from:. http://assets.usw.org/releases/misc/section-301.pdf. Accessed 12 September 2014.

  • U.S. Department of Energy. 2008. 20 Percent Wind Energy by 2030. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://www.20percentwind.org.

  • U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). 2013. “Annual Energy Outlook 2013: Market Trends – Natural Gas.” Accessed April 26, 2013. http://www.eia.gov/forecasts/aeo/MT_naturalgas.cfm#natgas_prices.

  • UNEP, SEFI, New Energy Finance, and Frankfurt School of Finance and Management. 2009. The Global Financial Crisis and its Impact on Renewable Energy Finance. United Nations Environment Programme. Accessed September 7, 2014. http://www.energy-base.org/fileadmin/media/sefi/docs/publications/Study_Financial_Crisis_impact_on_RE_.pdf.

  • United States. 1992. Energy Policy Act of 1992.

  • Vestas. n.d. Find Vestas. Vestas.com. Accessed April 26, 2013. http://www.vestas.com/en/about-vestas/find-vestas.aspx.

  • Walz, Rainer. 2010. “Competences for Green Development and Leapfrogging in Newly Industrializing Countries.” International Economics and Economic Policy 7 (2): 245–265.

  • Wang, Zhongying, Haiyan Qin, and Joanna I. Lewis. 2012. “China’s Wind Power Industry: Policy Support, Technological Achievements, and Emerging Challenges.” Energy Policy 51: 80–88.

  • Webb, Chris. 2011. “Wind Power: Crisis: What Crisis?” Renewable Energy World Magazine. Accessed April 14, 2013. http://www.renewableenergyworld.com/rea/news/article/2011/02/wind-power-crisis-what-crisis.

  • Wiser, Ryan, and Mark Bolinger. 2011. 2010 Wind Technologies Market Report. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Accessed September 7, 2014. http://eetd.lbl.gov/ea/emp/reports/lbnl-4820e.pdf.

  • Wiser, Ryan, and Mark Bolinger. 2012. 2011 Wind Technologies Market Report. U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). Accessed September 7, 2014. http://emp.lbl.gov/sites/all/files/lbnl-5559e.pdf.

  • Wong, Julian. 2010. “How Green is China’s Stimulus Package?” The Green Leap Forward

    . Accessed April 29, 2013. http://greenleapforward.com/2010/03/03/how-green-is-chinas-stimulus-package/.

  • World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO). 2009. Patent-based Technology Analysis Report: Alternative Energy Technology. Geneva: World Intellectual Property Organization.

  • WTO. 2013a. Dispute DS 412: Canada – Certain Measures Affecting the Renewable Energy Generation Sector. Accessed April 26, 2013. http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds412_e.htm.

  • WTO. 2013b. Dispute DS 426: Canada-Measures Relating to the Feed-in Tariff Program. Accessed April 26, 2013. http://www.wto.org/english/tratop_e/dispu_e/cases_e/ds426_e.htm.

About the article

Corresponding author: Joanna I. Lewis, Georgetown University – Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service, Washington, District of Columbia, USA, e-mail:

Published Online: 2014-10-24

Published in Print: 2014-12-01

Citation Information: Business and Politics, ISSN (Online) 1469-3569, ISSN (Print) 1369-5258, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/bap-2014-0012. Export Citation

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in