Clipper Windpower has confirmed that it is to construct a factory in the Neptune Estate in Tyne to build the biggest offshore wind turbine blades in the world.
The new factory, a 4,000m2 facility, is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2010. The site is owned by the city of Newcastle and is being developed by Shepherd Offshore Services.
The factory, which could employ a local workforce in excess of 500 people, will be used to develop and build blades for the Britannia Project, a 10MW offshore wind turbine prototype under development by Clipper.
The prototype is scheduled for deployment in late 2012, and is among the largest wind turbines under development in the wind industry – the blades will be 72m long and weigh more than 30 tonnes.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change grant of £4.46m was awarded to Clipper in September 2009. The grant is intended to accelerate development and demonstration of offshore wind technologies and components for multi-megawatt turbines.
Accordingly, the grant will contribute toward some of the costs associated with the development of the Britannia offshore wind turbine blade and factory. In April 2008, the Crown Estate announced its purchase of the first commercial prototype Britannia turbine.
Visiting the Clipper Windpower site, Ed Miliband, energy and climate change secretary, announced that an additional £8m of funding for offshore wind technology would be made available today, which will be invested in projects to support the development of a new generation of turbines.
’This is in addition to the £18m already awarded and the recent decision to issue rights for 32GW of capacity – the biggest expansion of offshore wind of any country in the world,’ he said.