There’s wind in them thar hills.
Dale Vince started his business career living in field in Gloucestershire, UK. He was sharing the field with the local milkman, who let Dale live in his van next to a load of million pound houses. Dale put up a wind speed meter and a tiny wind turbine, but the neighbours objected, so Dale
got planning permission for the turbine. Then he thought why not put up a bigger wind turbine. Fast forward ten years and Dale now owns the largest eco-electricity company in the UK he calls it Ecotricity. But the people in the local village who campaigned against him a decade ago still hate him, and still hate turbines.
START YOUR OWN WIND FARM – You will need something like the La Crosse Handheld Anemometer to measure wind speed – you can buy it from Amazon US whihc has a great selection of anemometers. Another option is the Kestrel Wind Meters & Weather Stations
Dale told www.newconsumer.com that wherever you go in the country, about 80 per cent of the people will be for what you’re doing or not against it. And 10 per cent of people will be almost rabidly against it. 10 per cent don’t know.
He even put up a wind turbine at Manchester City Football Club, and still likes to get involved when the company puts up a new turbine. I like to go along, but I don’t have anything to do with the project management. I get to have my hard hat on the for the interview and the photo shoot. But I love it. I love to get there for the final lift, when the blades go up.
He recently moved to a 150 year old house with stone walls. We’ll get wind and solar PV installed later this year in a bid to go almost off grid, said Dale.
Plus we’re vegan, we compost, we use rainwater collection for the toilets. We’ve found an old water tank in one of the cellars too that we’ll soon be using for water collection.
I think we’ll all be more responsible for our water and energy in the next decade – a bit like people were a century ago, which is an odd Back to the Future scenario. We’re playing with smart metering too, trying out the Wattson and Electrisave. We’ve got super insulation inside – dry lining. We’ve also got a thermal heat store that’s connected to a solar thermal array [that provides hot water] on the roof.
The big differences between 1995 – when Ecotricity started – and now is the awareness of climate change. Back then, few knew about it, even fewer people believed in it. Now very few don’t know about it, and even less say it doesn’t exist. It makes wind necessary. At the moment wind is the only tech in the UK that can be done at a price people can pay and at the sort of volumes we need to fight climate change. As soon as other technologies prove they’re ready, we’ll get involved. But my understanding is that wave and tide’s potential is not that huge in the UK.
Dale rules out selling Ecotricity to a big utility. Lot of troubles in the world today are to do with money – the way the City rules business. The City builds in short-termism and rules out altruism. The greening of business is happening because of consumers, not because of business. Take the supermarkets, which used to be in a price war, and are now in a war to be seen as the greenest – even Wal-Mart’s getting involved.
Sustainability comes naturally to me. The environment has always been a big issue, plus I don’t like wasting things and I like doing what feels right. I have children and I could say it’s them, but that’s not it. I enjoy challenges and can’t imagine what I’d do if I retired. My goal is for Ecotricity to get a million customers. We’ve got 25,000 now, which has doubled on last year, would like to get 50,000 by end of this year – I think we’ve got the wind behind us.
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