Clipper Wind breaks ground on offshore blade facility

The U.K. facility will make 72m blades for the 10 MW Britannia Project.

Clipper Windpower Marine Ltd. (Blyth, U.K.), a fully owned subsidiary of  Clipper Windpower Inc., on Feb. 18 announced the groundbreaking of its offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing facility in Neptune Estate, Tyne, UK.

The new factory, a 4,000m²/43,055ft² facility, is expected to be completed in third quarter 2010. The site is owned by the City of Newcastle and is being developed by Shepherd Offshore Services. Assuming expansion of the offshore market is in line with the government goals and Clipper turbines represent approximately 1 GW per year of development, the factory is expected to employ a local workforce in excess of 500.

The factory will be used to develop and build blades for the Britannia Project, a 10-MW 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/236 ft long and weigh more than 30 tonnes.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change grant of £4.46 million 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.