The 43,000sq ft factory on the former Neptune Yard, which is owned by Shepherd Offshore, will oversee the Britannia Project to help in the development of some of the world’s next generation of wind turbines and wind farm.
Whelan Construction has won the deal to work on the site, with the initial phase of the development – worth £5m to Gosforth-based Whelan – now under way.
Work has begun on the foundations on the reclaimed land on the banks of the River Tyne, and the steel frame of the building will be constructed in the coming weeks. The building is to be handed over in October.
Martin Nunn, who is responsible for special projects at Whelan, said: “The Clipper factory is an amazing project not only for the North-Eas,t but for the UK.
“It’s great to be a part of such a prestigious development and the completed factory will be carried out to Whelan’s exacting standards.
“The foundation works on site will shortly be complete and we will then push the development forward, so we can hand the keys over on time and within budget.”
Given the nature of the use of the factory, the site is a green development, with various eco-friendly aspects being used, from air source heat pumps to recycled rain water, in order to achieve a high Building Research Establishments Environmental Assessment Methods rating.
Freddy Shepherd, director of Shepherd Offshore, said: “We have been negotiating to attract Clipper to the region for some time now and it is great to finally see Whelan on site with building work well under way to get this groundbreaking factory up and running.
“We are delighted that a company as prestigious as Clipper has chosen to base this manufacturing facility here in the North-East.”
The Clipper contract begins Whelan’s expansion into the renewable construction sector in the North-East, an area of the UK which has been earmarked for investment by the Government.
David Still, managing director of Clipper Windpower Marine Limited, said: “I have been involved in the renewable energy sector for nearly 25 years and have been fortunate to be working with Clipper for the past five years.
“It is an extremely exciting time for renewables in the UK and it is really great to see the factory start to take shape.
“We’re looking forward to starting production of the blades at the back end of the year.”
Clipper Windpower Announces Groundbreaking for Offshore Wind Blade Factory
Clipper Windpower Marine Limited, a fully owned subsidiary of Clipper Windpower, Inc. (‘Clipper’) announced the groundbreaking of its offshore wind turbine blade manufacturing facility in Neptune Estate, Tyne, UK.
The new factory, a 4000 m2 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. Assuming expansion of the offshore wind power market is in line with the Government goals and Clipper wind turbines represent approximately one gigawatt 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 72 metres long and weigh over 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.
James G.P. Dehlsen, Chairman of Clipper, said: “Today marks an exciting and important milestone in achieving the Britannia Project blade requirements. Over the next few years, with the development of the Britannia turbine the UK will benefit through the supply of electricity based on its abundant offshore wind energy resource, and also with economic activity related to turbine manufacturing, offshore installation, and long term operations and servicing. The offshore wind market in the UK is rapidly becoming one of the most exciting sectors in the global renewable energy industry.”
Offshore wind energy projects under development total nearly half the current global offshore installed capacity (according to the BWEA).
Prime Minister Gordon Brown said: “I welcome Clipper’s ground-breaking announcement to build the largest wind turbine blade in the world on the banks of the Tyne. The UK is a global leader in offshore wind power, and the North East is at the forefront in providing the skills, expertise and enterprise to capitalise on this rapidly expanding market, which has the potential to create thousands of future green jobs.”
Clipper Windpower Plc is a company engaged in wind energy technology, turbine manufacturing, and wind project development. The Company designs advanced wind turbines, manufactures its 2.5 MW Liberty wind turbine, and actively develops wind power generating projects in the Americas and Europe.
Clipper’s headquarters are in the United Kingdom and in California, USA. The Company’s 330,000 square foot manufacturing and assembly facility for land-based wind turbines is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; its development centre for offshore wind turbine development is located in Blyth, UK. Clipper is a public company listed on AIM of the London Stock Exchange. Clipper’s ticker symbol is CWP.
The ordinary shares of Clipper Windpower Plc are traded on AIM of the London Stock Exchange and are not registered under the U.S. Securities Act of 1933, as amended. Such shares may not be offered or sold to residents of the United States or to persons acting on their behalf, or to other persons who are "United States Persons" within the meaning of Regulation S as promulgated under the Securities Act of 1933, unless such shares have been registered under the Securities Act or there is an available exemption from registration.
By Deborah Johnson, The Northern Echo, www.thenorthernecho.co.uk