Windmills, sports cars, sustainable fashion and a vision for a Green Britain

Safia Minney, Founder of People Tree, interviews Dale Vince, Founder of Ecotricity

Autosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH


Today on The Thread, we’re excited to tell you about Ecotricity. Ecotricity became the world’s first green electricity company when it was founded in 1996. Today Ecotricity provides green power to more than 75,000 customers in the UK – and you could be next. Make a difference with your energy bills and receive a FREE £40 People Tree voucher when join Ecotricity!

Safia Minney, Founder of People Tree: What was your inspiration to launch Ecotricity? Are you a hippie or bohemian turned social entrepreneur?

Dale Vince, Founder of Ecotricity: I have been concerned about sustainability issues since I was a boy. After leaving school, I wanted to pursue an alternative, low impact way of life. So I spent a decade living off-grid, generating the power I needed through a small windmill. There were a few of us hippies that got our electricity from small windmills, and we’d often say “why don’t they build a big one?”. A lot of sentences began with “why don’t they…”. Building my first large windmill in 1996 was a way of turning one of those ideas into reality.

Yes, I’m a bit of a hippie, a bit bohemian, and a bit of social entrepreneur. I haven’t radically changed to get where I am now, I’ve just evolved as my experiences have accumulated. At Ecotricity, we want to change the way we get our energy in Britain – it’s a unique vision and so looking at things from an unconventional point of view helps.

Safia: What’s your personal vision for Ecotricity?

ecotricity logo
Dale: To change where Britain’s energy comes from for the better. We want to bring about energy independence and sustainability for Britain, not dependence on the global energy market we have now.

It’s all part of our vision for a Green Britain. To get there, we are focusing on three areas in particular: Energy, Transport and Food. Those three categories make up 80% of all personal carbon footprints. Everything we do – whether its building windmills or installing the Electric Highway (our charging infrastructure for electric cars in Britain) – fits within those categories.

We will continue to build more windmills. We’ve relatively recently got permission to build our biggest wind park yet in Lincolnshire. We aim to have an Electric Highway charge point for electric cars at pretty much every motorway services in Britain next year, before tackling the A-roads.

We’re also planning quite diverse projects, from green gas mills, seamills and smaller scale vertical axis windmills, to an electric tractor, a smart grid device, and more.

Safia: You spent a lot of time working on your electric sports car model – why?

Dale: Quite simply because no one else was building one back then and we wanted to get the wheels turning for electric cars in Britain. I said at the outset that we opted for an electric sports car because we wanted to smash the stereotype of electric cars as something Noddy would drive, but also to stimulate thought and debate about how we’ll be getting around when the world runs out of oil.

We broke the electric land speed record last year, and that really got people talking about electric cars and raised the profile of EVs in Britain.

The logical next step was to solve the range anxiety issue, which is where our Electric Highway comes in.

Safia Minney: What kinds of fashion do you choose?

Dale: I frequently bump up against dress codes, whether it’s through invitations to black tie events, football board room dress codes, and so on. I don’t think people should dictate what other people wear. You should wear what makes you feel comfortable, whether at work, socially or at home. We don’t have a dress code at Ecotricity.

I’m most comfortable wearing t-shirt and jeans. But while looking good and feeling good in what you wear is important, it’s also vital that it comes from a sustainable source. That’s why People Tree is so great. People are asking serious questions about where their energy comes from, and it’s right that we ask the same questions about our clothes. It’s satisfying to know you’re wearing clothes made sustainably, with respect for people and planet.

Making a Difference Together

Switch to Ecotricity and you’ll receive a People Tree Voucher worth £40. Switching to Ecotricity couldn’t be easier. It takes less than five minutes. To sign up call Ecotricity free on 08000 302 302 or visit When you sign up please quote PT1.


Terms and conditions: The offer is open to UK residents (excluding Northern Ireland) aged 18 or over. It’s not available to agents, distributors or any other person connected with the offer. The offer is conditional on you switching your electricity supply to Ecotricity on or before 20/06/2014 having quoted the reference code PT1. For full terms and conditions, go to


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