This paper explores the globalization of the wind energy industry with a focus on the contribution by European companies and their economic impact in the global wind energy sector.
The global wind energy industry is nowadays a tale of two worlds, China and the rest of the world. In the last five years, China installed between 37 and 48% of the annual world market, and it is all but closed to foreign companies. Consequently, Chinese manufacturers captured between 38 and 47% of the world market whereas European reached between 41 and 50%. European manufacturers led in the rest of the world, serving between 73 and 82% of that market. They localise production and supply chain in the main markets (e.g. India, Brazil, US) or in countries where producing for export is cost-efficient (e.g. China, Mexico). Turbine manufacturers enter new markets through joint ventures, technology licensing, establishing wind farm developing subsidiaries, facilitating access to finance, or by acquiring a local company.
Manufacturers help improve the capability of their suppliers and take them to serve new markets. Still, European turbine manufacturers maintain important manufacturing, sales and R&D centres in Europe, where they keep major procurement, supply chain and employment thus significantly contributing to its economy.
European developers also expanded into other markets, sometimes by acquiring and strengthening a local developer (this was generally the case in the US), sometimes by starting a subsidiary from scratch. They have been particularly active in the US and Latin America.
The European wind industry is a success story of worldwide reach that attracts jobs and growth for Europe. In order to support that this will continue to be so in the mid- or long-term future, the industry needs the support of European and national policy makers with consented, well-targeted actions.