Britain's assault on the offshore wind energy sector has received a boost with the announcement that the world's biggest wind turbine blades are to be built at a new 4000 m2 facility on the River Tyne. The plant, due for occupation next April, expects to employ about 60 people by end of 2010.
Energy and Climate Secretary Ed Miliband has announced grants for three offshore wind energy companies, including £4.4 million to Clipper Wind Power towards developing the giant 70m blades.
Mr Miliband said the UK was consolidating its lead in offshore wind energy. "We already have more offshore wind energy than any other country, we have the biggest wind farm in the world about to start construction, and now we'll see the biggest turbine blades in the world made here in Britain," he went on.
"Our coastline means the offshore wind industry has the potential to employ tens of thousands of workers by 2020, manufacturing, transporting, installing and operating new turbines.
"It will take an active government to get us there and the funds I'm announcing today are part of the £120 million investment we are making this year and next in the wind industry to make that happen."
The three companies are:
* Clipper Wind Power - £4.4 million to develop their first prototype 70m blade for the Britannia project – the largest wind turbines in the world.
* Artemis Intelligent Power - £1 million to transfer their existing technology from automotive to wind energy.
* Siemens Wind Power UK - £1.1 million to develop the next generation power convertors for their larger offshore turbine.
As a result of its award, Clipper will start work on a plant in the North East of England where blades for its giant turbines will be developed. Once constructed, each blade will be more than 70 metres long and weigh over 30 tonnes. The blades are part of the turbines that will stand at 175 meters tall.