Wind power is considered one of the most cost-effective options for reducing carbon emissions from the global electricity system. However, achieving higher penetrations of wind energy presents a number of unique development and integration challenges. Most of the existing literature has focused on general solutions to technical engineering and economic problems, as well as the design of dedicated policy support. There has been far less focus on the political economy of wind development, which involves the features of countries, regions, and systems that shape incentives for developing and integrating wind power. Given that this broader context mediates the effectiveness of dedicated technical and policy approaches to promote wind, this is an important gap.

Drawing on global experience, this chapter develops an analytical framework for understanding the spectrum of political economy conflicts that arise when introducing and scaling wind power within an electricity system. We apply this framework to China, a country that has very different electricity sector institutions from those found in most other countries. We argue that China’s wind development and integration challenges can be understood through a general political economy framework, and show how high levels of wind energy curtailment in China are an expected result of clashes among actors and interests.

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Recommended citation:

Davidson, M. R., Kahrl, F., & Karplus, V. J. (2017). Towards a political economy framework for wind power: Does China break the mould? In D. Arent, C. Arndt, M. Miller, F. Tarp, & O. Zinaman (Eds.), The Political Economy of Clean Energy Transitions (pp. 250–270). Oxford University Press.