Abstract: Wind energy can contribute to national climate, energy and economic goals by expanding clean energy and supporting economies through new manufacturing industries. However, the mechanisms for achieving these interlinked goals are not well understood. Here we analyse the wind energy manufacturing global value chain, using a dataset on 389 component supplier firms (2006–2016) that work with 13 original equipment manufacturers. We assess how technology complexity, that is, the knowledge intensity and difficulty of manufacturing components, shapes the location of suppliers. For countries without existing wind industries, we find evidence of the emergence of suppliers for only low-complexity components (for example, towers and generators). For countries with existing wind industries, we find that suppliers’ evolution, that is, changes in their international supply relationships, is less likely for high-complexity components (for example, blades and gearboxes). Our findings show the importance of understanding technologies along with firms and countries within global value chains for achieving policy goals.