Putting the wind up small energy businesses

You might think that small environmentally-friendly companies would be moving into the green energy market: that setting up a wind farm, for example, would be a perfect business opportunity for a small company. In fact, the big companies are taking over this market. As the Der Spiegel article below states:

Europe’s wind energy sector is currently experiencing a major transformation. New massive offshore wind parks are soon expected to crop up off Europe’s coastline. Big companies like Siemens and General Electrics are increasing their stakes in a market worth billions. But experts warn that a new energy oligopoly may soon emerge.

So what is it about the wind energy market that makes it suitable for an oligopoly to develop? The two articles explore this question.

Winds of Change Der Spiegel, Nils-Viktor Sorge (1/11/10)
GE and Siemens Outpacing Wind Pioneers, Becoming Clean Energy’s “New Oligopoly” Fast Company, David Zax (2/11/10)


  1. What market failures are there in the wind energy market?
  2. What barriers to entry are there in the wind energy market?
  3. What economies of scale are there in this market?
  4. How are changes in this market affecting the minimum efficient scale of companies?
  5. Would there be room in the market for enough competitors to prevent collusion?
  6. How might the authorities prevent (a) open and (b) tacit collusion in the wind energy market?
  7. Do small wind energy companies have any market advantages?