The new 4000sqmt factory 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 company said that assuming expansion of the offshore market is in line with the government goals and Clipper turbines represent approximately 1GW 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 10MW offshore wind turbine prototype under development by Clipper. The prototype is scheduled for deployment in late 2012. The blades will be 72mt long and weigh over 30 tonnes.
A Department of Energy and Climate Change grant of GBP4.46m 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 revealed its purchase of the first commercial prototype Britannia turbine.
James Dehlsen, chairman of Clipper, said: "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."
Energy and Climate Change Secretary Ed Miliband, who visited the Clipper site, unveiled a grant of GBP8m for offshore wind technology, and called for proposals for the allocation of funding.
Mr Miliband said, "The GBP8m being made available today will be invested in projects to support the development of a new generation of turbines. This is in addition to the GBP18m 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."