Close-up: Dale Vince
He wants one million Britons to turn on to his turbines
Sunday 30 November 2008
Two decades ago Dale Vince was trundling around Britain in a bus, a new-age traveller doing his best to live "off-grid". Twelve years ago, his local electricity supplier laughed him out of its offices when he offered to sell them power from the wind turbine he'd built near his home on a hill outside Stroud. Today, the 47-year-old's firm, Ecotricity, is responsible for 12 per cent of Britain's wind turbines and provides 50-per-cent green electricity to 35,000 customers.
Which is just the start, says Vince: "Our plan is to have a million customers – then we can create vastly more change. Only five per cent of energy use in this country is renewable, which isn't nearly enough."
Lord Turner, chairman of the Government's climate-change committee, agrees. Tomorrow, he will publish a report in which he will declare that for the Government to meet its target of reducing UK carbon emissions by 80 per cent by 2050, it "would require the complete decarbonisation of [our] power system".
Could wind be the answer? Vince says the technical criticisms of wind turbines are ill-founded and as for the Nimbys, they've gone quiet of late: "Oil and gas prices doubled this year, which has put a new perspective on energy." His plans include mini-wind turbines for domestic use, a network of wind-powered power points for electric cars, and even an electric tractor. And he practises what he preaches – his home sounds like a showroom for sustainable energy: solar thermal panels, air-source heat pump, rainwater collection...
Doesn't he ever yearn to just get behind the wheel of a Ferrari and splurge some carbon? "I had one for a day once, as a present – I had to wear earplugs; it makes you drive crazily. But we're also developing an electric sports car that'll do 0-60mph in four seconds – green and fast..."
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