Times Online masthead.

The Times , 27 December 2009

Britain’s green rich list

Dale in the office.

There’s gold in those wind turbines. We highlight the top eco-tycoons, as rated by the compiler of our Rich List.

The Copenhagen summit may have put the damper on global plans to tackle climate change — but British entrepreneurs are charging ahead regardless.

Research by Philip Beresford, author of The Sunday Times Rich List, has unveiled 20 British business people who have already made millions from going green. They range from Dale Vince, the New Age traveller turned wind-power tycoon, to the Cottingham family, which has quietly built up a fortune from insulating houses and installing energy-efficient heating. In drawing up the list, we have excluded businessmen like Sir Richard Branson, who have added environmental interests to their businesses.

Compared with other European countries, in particular Germany and Spain, Britain has been sparing with its subsidies for renewable energy and slow to push through big infrastructure projects in the face of local opposition.

All that might be about to change. After the fudge at Copenhagen, where world leaders failed to adopt firm targets to cut carbon-dioxide emissions, Britain is one of the few developed countries with a legally binding target on greenhouse gas emissions. The Climate Change Act 2008 says the UK must cut carbondioxide output 34% by 2020, a goal that should generate even more opportunities for our green millionaires.

1: DALE VINCE Ecotricity £85m
Dale Vince was a grammar school pupil in Great Yarmouth but realised he did not want a conventional career. He got his first taste of the hippie way of life at music festivals: “I’d seen people living in old buses and knew there was an alternative.”

So at 19 Vince decided to become a New Age traveller. His first home was an old ambulance. Eventually, he was living in a truck that he had converted into a home and he had an entire alternative lifestyle.

“I had a little wind turbine to charge old batteries and even run a laptop computer ,” he said. Vince wanted more than to lead a lowimpact lifestyle, though, so he drove to Cornwall to see Britain’s first wind farm. It gave him the dream of building a wind turbine on the hill where he lived in Gloucestershire.

It took five years of challenges and appeals before he managed to get planning permission. The next hurdle Vince faced was selling the power. The energy sector had not been deregulated and the price he was offered to supply the national grid was lower than he wanted. Undaunted, he came up with a bold solution. “The only way to make the venture work was to cut out the middleman and reach end-users directly. At that time the electricity industry was just liberalising and it was possible to get a supplier licence.”

The company he created, Ecotricity, has grown rapidly and now incorporates a wind-development arm, which deals with the turbines, and a retail arm, which delivers the energy to customers. In 2007 alone Ecotricity invested £25m in wind energy. In 2007-8 it made a £1.9m profit on £28m sales. It has £37.8m net assets and has been valued at more than £100m. Cautiously, in this difficult climate, we value Vince, 48, at £85m.

Source: Britain’s green rich list

---

About Ecotricity

You can find out more about our company, our prices, our tariffs and our customer service that sets us apart.

And of course you can switch to Ecotricity - use your electricity bill wisely, and turn your bill into a windmill!

Finally, send us your thoughts, feedback, observations and ideas on this and other related topics at Dale Vince's blog www.zerocarbonista.com


Press Enquiries

If you are a journalist with a media enquiry, please contact our Press Office on 01453 761318 or you can email pressoffice@ecotricity.co.uk

For all other general enquiries, please call 01453 756111 or email home@ecotricity.co.uk.