Cohocton Wind Watch: United Technologies Unloads Clipper Windpower
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Monday, March 19, 2012

United Technologies Unloads Clipper Windpower

United Technologies, the industrial conglomerate based in Hartford, CT, is putting Clipper Windpower on the chopping block.

Less than two years after picking up Clipper for $112 million in late 2010, UTC claims the Carpinteria, CA-based wind turbine manufacturer does not fit within UTC’s future focus on the aerospace and building industries, according to comments made by an UTC representative.

Clipper, which has about 600 employees, makes one of the largest wind turbines in the United States – the 2.5-megawatt (MW) Liberty wind power turbine.

When UTC picked up the wind energy pioneer in 2010, Clipper was developing a mega-scale wind turbine, the Britannia, for offshore wind farms in the United Kingdom, which would have had a nameplate capacity of 7.5 MW. Eight months after the acquisition, UTC pulled the plug on the Britannia offshore wind turbine project.

Several factors have recently dampened demand for utility-scale wind power turbines, including a global oversupply of wind turbines, escalating competition from lower-cost manufacturers and the stubbornly sluggish speed of the global economic recovery.

As always, ReCharge News provides an excellent blow-by-blow breakdown of the UTC’s two-year affair with Clipper Windpower:

UTC in January 2010 invested an initial $207m to take a 49.5% stake in Clipper following a liquidity crisis at the wind turbine manufacturer. It gained full control in December 2010 for an additional $223m . . . Clipper was then losing money and share in its core US market. Installations of its flagship 2.5 MW Liberty wind turbine plunged to 28 in 2010 from 242 the previous year . . . .

The company’s image had also taken a hard hit after cracking problems surfaced in 2007 that required a $330m remediation program to replace the blades on all its turbines. Many of its third-party customers left for other vendors.

UTC plans to use the proceeds from the Clipper Windpower divestiture to pay for the $16.5 billion acquisition of Charlotte, NC-based aerospace-industry juggernaut Goodrich Corp.

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