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Clipper Windpower Marine Limited, a subsidiary of Clipper Windpower, Inc. (OTC:CRPWF), announced groundbreaking for a new manufacturing facility to produce blades for offshore wind turbines in Neptune Estate, Tyne, UK.

The new 4,000-square-meter facility is expected to be completed in 3Q10. The site is owned by the City of Newcastle and is being developed by Shepherd Offshore Services.

Assuming expansion of the offshore market is in line with the Government goals and Clipper turbines represent approximately one gigawatt per year of development, the factory is expected to employ a local workforce in excess of 500.

The factory will be used to develop and build blades for the "Britannia Project," a 10-MW offshore wind turbine prototype under development by Clipper. The prototype is scheduled for deployment in late 2012, and is among the largest wind turbines under development in the wind industry. The blades will be 72 meters long and weigh over 30 tons.

A Department of Energy and Climate Change grant of £4.46 million was awarded to Clipper in September 2009. The grant is intended to accelerate development and demonstration of offshore wind technologies and components for multi-megawatt turbines. Accordingly, the grant will contribute toward some of the costs associated with the development of the Britannia offshore wind turbine blade and factory. In April 2008, the Crown Estate announced its purchase of the first commercial prototype Britannia turbine.

The groundbreaking event was attended by Britain's Prime Minister, Gordon Brown, and the Energy and Climate Change Secretary, Ed Miliband.

Clipper’s headquarters are in the United Kingdom and in California. The Company’s 330,000 square foot manufacturing and assembly facility for land-based wind turbines is located in Cedar Rapids, Iowa; its development center for offshore wind turbine development is located in Blyth, UK.

In December 2009, United Technologies Corp. (NYSE:UTX) agreed to acquire a 49.5% stake in Clipper for approximately $270 million.

Disclosure: No positions

Source: Clipper: Wind Power Developer Moves to Expand U.K. Manufacturing Base