Turning Electricity Bills into Windmills

Monday 24 May 2010, by Alba Quer Romeo, Thomas Eisenhut, Zara Gilroy

5 inspired


With regards to the U.K Energy content, only 2.7% of the total electricity made is made from renewable energy sources. That is a very small percentage considering the ever increasing CO2 emissions and threat of climate change. Ecotricity is Europe?s first green energy company which aims to increase the amount of green energy and wind power that is made and bought.

In addition to selling both green and brown energy and specializing in wind power, the company engages in a wide range of activities that start with trying to promote awareness of renewable energy and wind turbines and only partnering with companies that share their same ethical and environmental values. For every pound its customers spend on its electricity, Ecotricity invests a pound building new sources of green energy and in addition, it is the only green electricity company actually building these new renewable energy sources. In 2007 alone they invested ?25 million in wind energy.


As the company value people, the planet and profit, they have faced a number of challenges in trying to stick to their mission of selling 100% green energy. In just four years they have more than doubled the proportion of green electricity in their brown and green mix of electricity to nearly 50% of green one. In 2009 they still hit an increase of 8%, twenty times the average of all the other energy companies. The proportion of renewable energy on Ecotricity’s standard tariff from turbines that they have helped to build rose from 24.1% in 2007 to 37.4% in 2008 with an increase to 45.6% in 2009. All this took place during a very tough recession and so the company (and the whole industry) had to raise prices. Nonetheless, the company maintained profits, achieved its targets and kept its customers.
Ecotricity?s founder, Dale Vince, writes a blog where big issues such as energy, transport and food are questioned. He also discusses a new type lifestyle, Zero Carbon living, and how we can follow it. Moreover, important environmental questions are answered. This blog is a way to spread information about being ecological green in our everyday?s consumption.
Ecotricity also started to think about supplying green gas by turning gas bills into Gas mills, as they do with electricity bills and Windmills. Ninety percent of homes in Britain are connected to the gas main and nearly two-thirds have a dual-fuel supplier (electricity and gas). Providing also green gas would be a step forward to bring Britain to an energy independent future.
Ecotricity is the sponsor of the Ecotricity Greenbird wind-powered vehicle that set a new world land speed record for wind-powered vehicles in 2009. Greenbird is a glimpse into the future. A vehicle with no engine, no fuel and no pollution - but very fast. With it they intend to set two new world speed records powered only by the wind. Their aim is to demonstrate, through a speed challenge, the potential of wind energy to drive cars of the future. A future when there’s no oil left to burn.
Ecotricity?s ultimate goal is 100% green electricity sourced from their own turbines. They are all on a journey from Brown to Green; it?s not the percentage that counts, but the rate of change that?s being made. Forward the revolution.


We believe in Ecotricity?s ethical values because it has stated its values, mission and vision and stuck to them right from the beginning. Its purpose is to supply green energy, a goal which is achieving and even improving every day. Many surveys, rankings and awards have recognized Ecotricity?s environmental commitment. In 2004 The Ecologist magazine reported that in 2004 Ecotricity invested over ?900 per costumer on new wind turbines, more than 100 times the amount invested by other green energy suppliers. Ecotricity was also a winner in 2007 in the Ashden Awards for Sustainable Energy.
The awards congratulated Ecotricity for their environmental contribution, stating that ?The company’s turbines are delivering 46 GW?h/yr of renewable electricity and avoiding around 46,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions a year?, figures which are sure to be proud of.


Despite all this success, it is possible that the company could face some challenges in the future. First of all Ecotricity buys all its facilities in the Euro area therefore they have had to deal with the weak pound of the last few years. Another big obstacle for the development of the firm is cheap energy from competitors and other energy providers. Cheap energy provided by nuclear power stations hold a lot of customers back from changing to green energy since the price difference is still substantially large. In addition, the company clearly expresses its aim to grow and further increase it?s number of green energy customers. Therefore we see it necessary to get capital from outside investors in order to increase the firm?s investments. Another aspect is that Ecotricity produces a big part of its energy through wind mills. This can unfortunately cause local communities to complain and even protest since these mills might be seen as an eyesore and a disturbance to their area. Finally the UK has adopted a policy to subsidize the green energy sector. This has led to more green energy since it got profitable to produce renewable energy. However there came up also some criticism because these measures rely on subsides and these led to general price increases of electricity. In a second part of this discussion we would like to focus on how we think they could improve their business. We learned that the weak pound penalizes the company since they buy the equipment in the Euro area. So they should consider for the future to operate as well in the Euro area in order to overcome this problem. Another point we suggest is to think about building wind mills offshore in the UK or in Europe. This would avoid conflicts with local communities. Lastly, the bigger their company becomes, the more they will benefit from economies of scale.


Location: Country Stroud (united kingdom of great britain)

Sector: energy; green energy and wind power

Official website:

Key figures:

Annual Revenue (for 2009): ?27m
Annual Profit (for 2009): ?1.8m.
Number of Employees: 170 plus IT team of 6
Countries of Operation: U.K

Nbr. visits: 1345

Nbr. inspires: 5