The world’s first green electricity company
Green electricity didn’t exist in the world back in 1996. When we offered it for the first time, we became not just Britain’s but the world’s first green electricity company – and we kick-started the now global green electricity movement. Our mission was and remains to change the way electricity is made and used in Britain.
We chose this focus because, at the time, conventional electricity was responsible for 30% of Britain’s carbon emissions – our biggest single source as a nation, and therefore the biggest single thing we could change.
To green energy company
In 2010, we introduced the concept of green gas to Britain and in the process we evolved into a fully-fledged green energy company. It’s a pretty revolutionary idea – that we can make our own gas and put it into the national gas grid.
We operate a unique model. We use our customers’ energy bills to fund the building of new sources of green energy. We like to refer to this as turning ‘bills into mills’ – energy bills into windmills, sunmills and – soon – gasmills. We’re a not-for-dividend company – our profits go back into our mission.
With no shareholders to answer to, we’re free to dedicate ourselves to the task of building new sources of green energy. And we share the benefits of our work through our ecobonds – giving people the chance to share the financial benefits of the green energy revolution.
Energy is the key
We’ve come a long way since we started in 1996. Electricity is still one of the biggest single sources of carbon emissions in Britain – but it’s not the only one, of course. The big three are energy, transport and food, between them accounting for 80% of all of our personal carbon footprints. The one thing they have in common is that energy plays a vital role in them all. That’s why we extended our work beyond the boundaries of traditional energy companies.
In transport, we built the Nemesis, Britain’s first electric super car – to demonstrate how cars of the future could actually be wind powered. Next came our Electric Highway, the world’s first national network of car charging stations – to kick-start the electric car revolution in Britain.
On the food front, stay tuned for news of our wind powered tractor and farm energy concepts.
We do all this in pursuit of our vision for a Green Britain – a place in which we all live more sustainable lives and where ethical business is the norm, pursuing outcomes other than profit. And we do it all with the support of our customers.
Ecotricity is a British energy company based in Stroud, Gloucestershire, England, specialising in selling green energy to consumers that it primarily generates from its 87.2 megawatt wind power portfolio – the company prefers the term windmill rather than wind turbine. It is built on the principle of heavily reinvesting its profit in building more of its own green energy generation.
Ecotricity was started by Dale Vince in 1995, with a single wind turbine he had used to power an old army truck in which he lived on a hill near Stroud.
Ecotricity building in Rowcroft, Stroud, one of its three bases in the town.
From that, Vince went on to build commercial wind-monitoring equipment, which the company still does today, using the name Nexgen. Ecotricity started generation with a 40-metre turbine in 1996, which at the time was the largest in the country.
In 2007, Vince ran an advertisement on the back page of The Guardian newspaper inviting Richard Branson to his house to discuss solutions to climate change over a carbon-free breakfast. The ad ran the day after Branson appeared on TV with American former vice president Al Gore, who had managed to persuade Branson that climate change was an issue. The ad included Vince's personal mobile phone number.
Ecotricity was a winner in the 2007 Ashden Awards for sustainable energy. The awards congratulated Ecotricity for its environmental contribution, saying: "The company's turbines are delivering 46 GW·h/yr of renewable electricity and avoiding around 46,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year. The installed capacity is expected to double by the end of 2007."
In July 2009, Ecotricity started legal proceedings against French power company EDF Energy for the alleged misuse of the green Union Flag logo, used to promote EDF's Team Green Britain campaign. Ecotricity had previously used a green Union flag in its own advertising and claimed confused customers had contacted it to ask why Ecotricity was co-operating with EDF.
In January 2012, it was announced that Ecotricity has invested in the development of Searaser pump-to-shore wave energy machines, and in June said they were to be deployed in the autumn of that year. In October 2014 Ecotricity and marine consultants DNV GL were moving from laboratory trials to sea trials.
In 2013, Ecotricity's electricity supply became 100% renewable, rather than a mix.
In October 2014, it was announced that Ecotricity had partnered with Skanska to build and finance new turbines, which added a further 100MW to its existing 70 MW capacity, The following month, the company decided not to attempt new planning applications in England because of the political climate, instead concentrating on Scotland. It went on to spin its small turbine manufacturer out into a subsidiary called Britwind, which, in collaboration with a local company, offered free electricity to crofters in return for installing a small turbine, keeping any excess power generated.
In March 2015, Ecotricity announced it had refinanced its existing wind farms with the aim of using the extra capital to expand production to 100 megawatts by November 2016.
In 2016 Ecotricity had approximately a 25% shareholding stake in competitor Good Energy, which has been sustained to 2020.
In the 2017/2018 financial year the company had a turnover of £176 million, with a gross profit of £55 million and a Loss on ordinary activities before tax of £4.9 million, but after charges and revaluation of investments had a "Total comprehensive (loss) for the year" of £9.5 million. It gave £416,000 to charity.
Before August 2013, Ecotricity ran a mix of fuels. Ecotricity's proportion of renewable energy rose from 24.1% in 2007 to 51.1% in 2011 (compared with a national average of 7.9%), with plans for a further increase to 60% by 2012
In the past, a substantial proportion of the electricity (25.9% in 2007) sold by Ecotricity to customers came from nuclear sources. This proportion had decreased to 16% by 2010, and 2.6% by 2011. Ecotricity also provided a 100% renewable energy tariff called New Energy Plus, in which renewable energy was bought in from other suppliers to top up renewable energy produced by Ecotricity.
In Conisholme in Lincolnshire on 8 January 2009 two of the blades of one of the company's turbines were damaged. In February 2013 the go-ahead was given for Ecotricity to build its largest windfarm, a 66 megawatt, 22 turbine farm at Heckington Fen in Lincolnshire
On 25 April 2016 planning permission for the site at Sparsholt College was refused. In July 2016, a new application was made to build the facility at the college site, which was approved in October 2016. The new proposal included "[...] new and revised traffic data and assessment, new traffic plans to keep vehicle movements away from Sparsholt village and a commitment to protect local road infrastructure.". Also, "[Ecotricity] consulted representatives of the nearby parish councils and incorporated their requests, wherever possible into the routing plans and operational controls."
By the start of 2019 the company had not built any biogas plants but still intended to do so.
Ecotricity Export Tariff, Smart Export Guarantee
Ecotricity plan to launch an Export Tariff to support domestic renewables such as solar panels, by paying them for their export units. This is likely to be in line with the upcoming government scheme, Smart Export Guarantee, designed to support low-carbon renewable energy Generators.
Founder and Managing Director of Ecotricity, Dale Vince, said on his Facebook page that Ecotricity will "shortly add an export tariff and new app functionality".
Microtricity Feed-in Tariff
Ecotricity also offers the Feed-in Tariff as a voluntary licensee under the name "Microtricity", offering payments to people who generate and export electricity from low-carbon sources such as solar panels.
Ecotricity has built an electric sports car called Nemesis that was built as a demonstration of what electric cars are capable of: an endurance trip from Land's End to John o' Groats is planned recharging only from electricity produced by wind power. In September 2012 the car broke the UK electric land speed record reaching an average speed of 151 mph
In July 2011 Ecotricity launched a free vehicle charging network sited around the country at 14 of the Welcome BreakMotorway service areas, linking London in the south with Exeter in the west and Edinburgh in the north. The charging points were initially equipped with both a UK standard 13amp domestic socket and a high power IEC 62196 32amp 3-phase socket. It is to build wind turbines and vehicle charging points at RoadChef sites across the UK to allow vehicles to recharge directly from the wind.
In October 2012 the company started to add 50 kW CHAdeMO fast charging to its charging stations allowing compatible cars to recharge within 30 minutes. In April 2014 it was announced that it would be adding support for Combined Charging System connectors from May and the September had over 120 chargers.
In May 2014 it brought an interim high-court injunction against electric car manufacturer Tesla over its vehicle charging network; this was resolved in an out of court settlement.
In 2014 the Ecotricity vehicle charging network had sporadic software problems to do with the addition of a new connector which left some chargers not working or not connecting to specific cars.
As of December 2014 it covered 90% of the motorway service stations including Land's End and John o' Groats. By December 2015 it had 6,500 members using it once a week or more, and the network, which had hitherto been free of charge, would henceforth require payment. In an interview in March 2016 Vince announced that payment would start in a couple of months and the money from it would be used to improve and extend the network.
From 11 July 2016 Ecotricity started charging £5 for a 20-minute fast-charge, later changed to £6 for 30 minutes but kept it free for customers of Ecotricity. Following feedback from customers, a balance between the needs of EV drivers and PHEV drivers has led to a £3 connection fee, waived for Ecotricity customers, and 17p per KWh.
In 2018 the Ecotricity EV tariff on its motorway network was 30p/KWh for non-Ecotricity customers and half this for customers using the Rapid charger network. The access is via a mobile phone app. To help with using this most of the network 'pumps' are being fitted with short range, restricted, WiFi to enable connection in poor mobile signal areas.
By the start of 2019 Ecotricity was providing over 300 charging points.
In September 2013, Ecotricity planned to launch a mobile phone network called Ecotalk. In March 2016, Vince said that electricity costs will all be covered by "green electricity" and some of the profits would go towards returning land to the wild. In February 2017 a mobile virtual network operator announced it had been chosen as their partner in this and that the technical infrastructure would originally be supplied by Three UK, however, Ecotalk is supplied by EE as of June 2018.
Small turbine manufacture
In May 2014, Ecotricity rescued Evance, a manufacturer of small (5 kW) wind turbines, from administration, saving the company's 29 jobs. Branded "Brit Wind" in January 2017 they announced one million pounds worth of sales to Japan as well as sales to France, Norway, Denmark, the US and Belgium.
The company has donated to several political parties that support subsidies for renewable energy. In November 2013 it donated £20,000 to the Green Party. On 10 February 2015 Ecotricity announced that it would be donating £250,000 to the electoral fighting fund of the UK Labour Party. This decision alienated some of its customers, in particular supporters of the Green Party as they felt some Labour policies are at odds with Ecotricity's avowed green ethical stance.
At the end of 2017 Ecotricity was granted planning permission to build one of the UK's first grid scale battery storage projects on its Alveston site. The 10 megawatt project is intended to share the grid connection with the three new windmills there, providing the company with peak-shaving.
Virtual Power plant
In May 2018 it was announced that Ecotricity would start building a Virtual power plant to more efficiently use and manage the electricity usage.
In October 2020 he announced the company will now also make diamonds just using carbon-dioxide they capture from the air, water and power from their own green supply.
Companies with headquarters and/or registered office in the UK but no applicable energy operations within the country shown in italics1Ultimate parent company is not UK-based 2Integrated in the United States, no generation or supply activities in the UK