Dale Vince, the founder of the world’s first green energy company, Ecotricity, is putting the company up for sale and moving into politics.
He made the announcement at a minute past midnight this morning (Friday) via Twitter.
The timing wasn’t the best – it being April Fools Day – but a convincingly honest interview with BBC Radio Gloucestershire at 8 o’clock this morning seemed to confirm the contents of a press release issued earlier.
The reasons for his departure are two-fold. First, Ecotricity requires massive investment: an estimated £2 billion to build a green energy pipeline – the company has 2,500 megawatts of renewable energy generation in planning.
Second, Dale wants to go into politics in some form – maybe by standing for parliament. Those ambitions are no secret: he laid them bare in his book Manifesto, published in 2020.
If he picked this route, it’s likely (selection process permitting) he would stand for the Labour Party of which he is a member.
He told BBC Gloucestershire that he loves the Green Party, but that the environment doesn’t have time for them to grow and become government-ready.
Labour, then, has the best chance of success at the next election – and he wants to be free of accusations of ‘vested interests’ to push for renewable energy from within a Labour government.
Ecotricity is in the biggest year of construction in its history – creating around 30 megawatts of renewable energy with two solar parks and a battery storage project, alongside the green gasmill – all due to be completed this year.
It’s a 30 percent increase in what the company has built over the last two decades.
The company supplies around 200,000 homes and businesses across Britain with renewable energy from the wind and sun. Turnover is around £300 million a year.
KPMG has been tasked with finding a buyer – which might not necessarily be one of the Big Six energy companies. Dale told BBC Gloucestershire that a list of 60 to 70 companies had been drawn up by KPMG: pension funds, venture capitalists, car companies, and more.
BBC presenter Mark Cummings wanted to know whether the jobs of the 800 people the firm employs in Stroud were safe, and whether Ecotricity would stay in the town. Could he guarantee the firm’s future in the county?
“I get to choose. I’m not motivated by money. I have control,” he said. And while he couldn’t offer a cast iron guarantee that the company would never leave Stroud under new ownership, he said he would gauge the intentions of any potential buyer during negotiations.
In his press statement, Dale said: “This is a huge decision – it’s been my life for a long time and is arguably my life’s work.
“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.
“Or more urgent – 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.
“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.
“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.
“I believe this will be the most important election of our lives.”
Business & Innovation Magazine has approached Ecotricity directly for confirmation.