Rebirth of UK Manufacturing: North East on Board

Rebirth of UK Manufacturing: North East on Board

Clipper Windpower to build the world’s largest turbine blade in Newcastle, initially creating 500 jobs.
Government pledges a further £8 million for offshore wind.
Number of UK companies entering supply chain set to grow.

BWEA (RenewableUK), the UK’s leading trade association, welcomed today’s announcement from US company Clipper Windpower on plans to build the world’s largest turbine blade in Newcastle, for its proprietary 10 megawatt (MW) Britannia wind turbine. Each Britannia turbine 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) also pointed out 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, said: “Wind energy presents a significant opportunity for the UK economy, leading 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.”

In 2008 Clipper Windpower established a research and development facility at the New and Renewable Energy Centre (NaREC) 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.

“We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to seize the lead in an exciting and lucrative emerging sector. 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”, concluded McCaffery.

The Prime Minister Gordon Brown also announced today 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 (and) in addition to the £18 million already awarded.”

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