US company Clipper Windpower has announced it plans to build the world's largest offshore wind turbine blades in Newcastle.
The new blades are designed to be fitted on the company’s 10 megawatt (MW) Britannia wind turbine. Each of these turbines will be able to satisfy the annual electricity consumption of over 6500 households. The factory building the blades will be based on Tyneside, creating 500 jobs by 2020.
BWEA (RenewableUK) welcomed the announcement from the company saying that Clipper’s factory joins a growing number of UK businesses capitalising on the economic opportunities presented by the onshore and offshore wind supply chain. Recently, companies such as Mabey Bridge and JDR Cable Systems have announced a significant increase in manufacturing capacity to service the burgeoning wind sector, with further interest from other potential entrants.
Maria McCaffery, BWEA Chief Executive, says that wind energy presents a significant opportunity for the UK economy and could lead to between 60,000 and 70,000 new jobs by 2020. “The potential 40+ gigawatts (GW) of offshore wind alone could supply over a third of our country’s electricity. Clipper’s pioneering example demonstrates that it is possible to attract investment on the back of a world-class research institution, and co-ordinated action by a number of regional and central Government agencies.”
We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to seize the lead in an exciting and lucrative emerging sector,” says McCaffery. “Various agencies are estimating the short-term potential of European offshore wind at 150GW. If the industry and Government act in concert now, we could be securing both the future of our energy independence and our manufacturing.”
In 2008 Clipper Windpower established a research and development facility at the New and Renewable Energy Centre in Blyth, 15 miles from Newcastle. In January 2010 the UK Government announced a potential to develop 40GW+ of offshore wind energy in UK waters. The industry is confident that the UK, which already holds the worldwide lead in terms of offshore installed wind capacity, could have at least 20GW installed by 2020.
Clipper Windpower chairman, James Dehlsen, commented on the decision. “With the deployment of the 10MW Clipper offshore turbine in UK waters, the nation will benefit from clean power, and also from the strong economic boost arising from the development and serial production of the turbines in the coming years.”
The Prime Minister Gordon Brown has also announced a further £8 million in funding for offshore wind energy which will be “invested in projects to support the development of a new generation of turbines.” This will be in addition to the £18 million already awarded.