It has been the only way they can catch up with the rest of the world. "Even before Chinese companies could start batch production of 200 kW turbines, the world market was dominated by 600 kW class turbines," he says. Domestic firms accounted for just 15% of China's installed capacity in 2003, increasing that only slightly to around 18% in 2004. Goldwind, he notes, accounted for 80% of the capacity installed by Chinese firms in both years. The technological difference between the turbines produced domestically and those produced by international companies was akin to that between a black and white television and a colour one, he says.
How times have changed. With the introduction of China's renewable energy law in 2006 and regulations to support implementation of the law, domestic turbine manufacturers have been shooting up. At least 40 companies are now making wind turbines, though less than a handful of those are doing so in serious numbers.
Chinese companies in conventional machine building industries see the wind power industry as a new growth area, says Pan Weiping, head of the China office for Garrad Hassan, a wind energy consultancy based in the UK. These newcomers, like the original group of domestic producers such as Goldwind and Windey, took a shortcut and chose to acquire foreign technology, he says. So far around ten domestic companies can provide megawatt size machines.