Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Britannia Fails to Rule the Waves as Top Wind Project Mothballed; Market Plunge among Factors in Decision

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Britannia Fails to Rule the Waves as Top Wind Project Mothballed; Market Plunge among Factors in Decision

Article excerpt

Byline: Adrian Pearson

THE firm which kickstarted hopes of a wind turbine revolution in Tyneside has halted its offshore work.

Clipper Windpower hoped to create around 1,000 North East jobs by designing and building giant offshore wind turbines in the region.

Government grants would have underpinned the Britannia project for 10MW turbines which would have been tested at Blyth's National Renewable Energy Centre and then manufactured on a custom-built site at the Neptune Yard on the banks of the River Tyne.

But the American parent company United Technologies has mothballed the project and handed funding back, as it looks to reconsider plans for the offshore turbines and focus instead on the production of smaller onshore models. Clipper was picked by Crown Estates to lead the way in producing the thousands of turbines to be placed 100 miles out to sea at Dogger Bank.

Nearly pounds 2m handed to Clipper to help with this aim has been handed back after the two sides agreed to terminate contracts.

A further pounds 5m which had been set aside by development agency One North East to help the manufacturer was not accessed and is likely now to be returned to the Government rather than be held for further regional investments.

Clipper's parent company in America is expected to send senior executives to Tyneside in the coming weeks to discuss options.

Peter Christman, president of Pratt & Whitney Power Systems, the subsidiary of United Technologies which owns Clipper, said: "We have not decided to move out of offshore wind but it is a question of timing and we did not want to hold up the Crown Estate."

He said there were a number of factors in his decision, including an increase in the number of competitors, and the current turmoil in financial markets.

Last night Bruce Shepherd, from whose firm the factory land is leased, said he remained optimistic for the future of wind production. …

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