Entrepreneur claims £2bn investment needed to fund Ecotricity’s 2.5GW green energy project pipeline, as he looks to play a role in ‘most important general election of our lives’
Dale Vince is looking for a new owner for Ecotricity, the pioneering green energy company he founded off the back of a single wind turbine over 25 years ago, with the entrepreneur considering embarking on a new career in politics, he revealed today.
In a message to staff at Ecotricity, which employs around 800 people, Vince said he is looking to sell the company to a new owner who can turbocharge the development of its 2.5GW pipeline of planned green energy capacity, the build out of which he said would require some £2bn of investment.
Ecotricity develops renewable energy and low carbon gas projects, in addition to supplying around 200,000 households and business customers across Britain with green energy, boasting an annual turnover of £300m.
The entrepreneur said the firm was now engaged in the biggest year of construction in its history, with 30MW of renewable energy projects – including two solar parks and a battery storage project, alongside a biomethane gas facility – all due to be completed in 2022.
However, the firm’s full 2.5GW pipeline of planned capacity is more than 20 times what it has built out organically to date, and Vince said he was seeking a new owner “that shares Ecotricity’s commitment to green energy” to take the company to the next stage.
“This is a huge decision – it’s been my life for a long time and is arguably my life’s work,” he said. “But it’s the right decision at the right time – our pipeline of green energy projects is way beyond what we can fund ourselves, while at the same time, the country’s need for new sources of renewable energy has never been bigger.”
Vince, who received an OBE in 2004 for his services to the environment and the electricity industry, plans to stay on as chairman of Forest Green Rovers, the League Two side he took charge of in 2010 and has since transformed into the world’s first vegan football club.
He will also continue working as a Climate Champion for Sport with the UN and as a sustainability advisor to UEFA, in addition to working on plans to develop a new stadium for Forest Green Rovers near Stroud, dubbed the Eco Park.
However, Vince said he had long harboured an interest in moving into politics, and that with the window for tackling the climate crisis and delivering net zero emissions fast closing, he believed the UK’s next general election would be “the most important election of our lives”.
“We’re halfway through the vital last decade the UN said we had to avoid the worst of climate change, and little has changed in that time,” he said. “The good news is that the war in Europe has finally brought the attention of our government to this issue, through the risk to energy supplies and the newfound interest in energy independence.
“By passing the baton now to a new owner, Ecotricity will be able to play a big role in the accelerated shift to 100 per cent green energy on the grid. And I will be able to play a part in the next general election in some way or another.”
Vince spent a decade as a new age traveller before founding Ecotricity from a single windmill in 1995, and has in the past donated money to both the Green Party and Labour, as well as climate activist groups such as Extinction Rebellion and Insulate Britain.
A colourful character, Vince’s tenure at Ecotricity has not been without drama, with the entrepreneur engaging in a long war of words with rival west country green electricity supplier Good Energy over the latter’s leadership.
Vince has gradually acquired a sizeable stake in Good Energy in recent years, and has more recently launched several takeover bids for the firm, all of which have been rebuffed.
But Vince hinted that he now wished to move into politics in order to accelerate the transition to net zero, although he has not said in what capacity his preferred role might take.
“We have everything we need to get to net zero as a country, we have the technology, economics is on our side, as are the public – we clearly have the need, what we lack are politicians that get it and the policies that will help make it happen – faster,” he said.