Clipper Wind Power has abandoned plans for the development of a
10MW offshore wind turbine at NAREC in Blythe.
The company's ambitious 'Britannia' project was considered an
iconic vision for turbine developement in the UK, even securing
Clipper the Crown Estate (TCE) as a joint venture partner.
But the project floundered almost as soon as it was launched.
Clipper failed to meet development milestones and broke the terms
and conditions of its funding agreement with the Crown Estate.
Traditionally a manufacturer of onshore wind turbines, Clipper
has experienced mixed fortune over the past few years. Beset by
operational and funding issues in its onshore turbine division, the
company was hit badly by the global credit crisis and was
eventually acquired by United Technologies Corporation (UTC) last
Clippers termination of the Brittania project almost certainly
marks the end of its offshore wind ambitions, just as the global
trend seems to be turning towards offshore.
Whilst the company insists that there will still be commercial
opportunities for Clipper to exploit in the future, the failure of
the project has raised questions over the judgement of the Crown
Estate and the Department of energy and Climate Change for getting
involved in the project. TCE originally invested £1.6m in the
project, with DECC committing millions in state aid towards the
development of gearboxes and blades.
Although the Crown Estate received a full refund and DECC paid
only a fraction of what it had committed, the fact that the project
failed to meet even its earliest milestones has raised serious
questions over the due diligence undertaken by both parties.
The Government and the Crown Estate have downplayed concerns
over its investments, citing that Brittania stimulated the
development of the UK supply chain in advance of the mega Round 3
But at a time when many profitable small firms in the offshore
wind supply chain are battling to secure financing for future
growth, both the Crown Estate and the Government could do well to
channel the money into UK companies, where real opportunities for
job creation are there for the taking.
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