Electric dreams

In the Cotswolds, near the town of Nailsworth on the highway with the strange name of the road is Another unusual football stadium. Going to the territory, first notice a couple of Nissan Leaf electric vehicles connected to the charging columns. In the lobby at the front Desk are the leaflets of the society of vegans. This is the only football club in the world, that doesn’t serve meat and dairy dishes. Players and fans can enjoy fajitas with the meat substitute, burgers, vegetables, pizza without cheese and tea with soy milk.

View out to the main terrace club Forest Green Rovers, and you’ll notice something more interesting. Upstairs the South stand located 170 solar panels. The corner box has a large capacity for water storage, falling back on the drainage from the field that is fertilized with seaweed. Unusual even banner ads: the big logo of the charity organization for the protection of the marine environment Sea Shepherd, which is a white skull and crossbones.

All this may seem a noble, extravagant vanity idea generation and hippies. But Forest Green Rovers is a big club. The team are all professionals, and in the standings of the National League (the fifth highest League of English football) it is at the top. If the club is not slowing down, he will be a good chance for the first time in its 127-year history to advance to the second League. But he has purpose and a higher order — to reach the Football League championship, where only one step up to the Premier League.

For this reason, Forest Green Rovers carries out the construction plan of the extraordinary stadium in Gloucestershire near Stroud. The project was prepared by the firm of Zaha Hadid Architects, which built the centre of water sports to the 2012 Olympics. The stadium will seat five thousand people with possibility of double extension. Build it entirely of wood. “This yet never ever did, said Dale Vince (Dale Vince), in 2010 saved the club from almost complete ruin, and today is its Chairman. — It will be the most environmentally friendly stadium in the world.”

We met in early November in strauchi the headquarters of the company renewable Ecotricity, which Vince founded in 1995. Today it operates 19 wind and two solar power plants. Vince 55 years old, but he is not like the usual head of the firm. He walks in brown boots, torn jeans and a black t-shirt. The hair on his head shaved on the sides, upstairs a small ponytail, and he wears long sideburns. The lobe of the left ear from a businessman inserted a silver ring.

The Cabinet of Vince sparsely furnished: two bag chairs, a Desk, a small round table in the middle and a large green British flag on the wall. If you don’t read the newspaper, which last summer attracted General attention to his status, when Vince led the court battle with his ex-wife, you are unlikely to take away the impression that he is worth more than £ 100 million.

This condition allowed Vince to expand their green dreams, moving them beyond the football field. Before the General election in 2015, he has transferred 250 thousand pounds to the labour party, 50 thousand pounds to the liberal Democrats and 20 thousand pounds staff of a member of Parliament from the green party, Caroline Lucas (Caroline Lucas). But the biggest successes on the environmental front he could achieve in transport. Firm Ecotricity has built the so-called “Electric highway”. A network of 296 EV-charging points in gas stations, allowing today the driver of such vehicle to drive from land’s End (the westernmost point of the island of Britain) to John O Groats (the northernmost point). Vince says he is trying to accelerate the death of the internal combustion engine. “Our government is not the most ambitious environmental issues, but it wants to be by 2030 all cars were electric or hybrid. And we believe that this can be done faster.”


Vince grew up in Norfolk in great Yarmouth in a Bungalow with two bedrooms. His father was a truck driver. He worked hard and was always worried about having enough money for the family. “So I decided to leave school and act like a hippie, wrote in 2009 in the Daily Telegraph Vince. — I didn’t need no career, no mortgage”.

He dropped out of high school at 15 years of age, and four years later became the traveler of the New century. The first house was the old carriage “ambulance”. Vince toured the UK and Europe. In the process he married, sketch, learn to bake bread — and clashed with police. He joined the Confederate anti-authoritarian travelers “Convoy of peace”, and in the summer of 1985 took part in “the battle at Binfield”, when the police tried to prevent the holding of a free festival at Stonehenge, and clashed with the protesters. Some travelers were beaten and their cars smashed.

Vince was a man handy. He had installed a small wind turbine on your car to illuminate the interior. In the early 1990s, when he lived on the hill in Gloucestershire in decommissioned army truck, he was struck with enlightenment: and what if to use wind energy on a much larger scale and change the whole energy industry? Vince decided to go back into society and created the company Ecotricity, which claims to be the world’s first company “green” energy. The model was fairly simple: the company produces the maximum possible amount of energy from renewable sources, buys additionally required energy on the basis of organic fuel, and receive from you means building all new wind-driven generator, while the whole energy of the whole will not be “green”.

“Its first wind farm I built in 1996 after a five year battle all kinds of obstacles — opponents of the construction, bigots, planners, big energy companies and others. In 1997 I went to Kyoto — wrote Vince in his blog Zero Carbonista. — The rest is history.”

The first wind farm is still working. Its blade can be seen from the top of the stands Vince. Ecotricity is doing well as a football club attendance home games which in six years has doubled. The company has almost 200 thousand customers. According to Registration chamber of great Britain, the turnover for the financial year ending in April 2016, amounted to 126 million pounds, an increase compared to the previous period is 17 million. Net profit before tax was 6.7 million pounds. Vince is the sole shareholder of the company, however, Ecotricity does not pay dividends, and his salary does not exceed 150 thousand pounds. Vince with his second wife and their son live in a converted Fort of the 18th century, which is worth over two million pounds. However, he States that his primary motive is not money.

Despite all the success of Ecotricity, the company is facing difficulties, including the consequences of Brexia, which Vince doesn’t agree. “We haven’t even entered the EU, and the pound fell, and the banks are thinking about leaving the country, he said. — The process of withdrawal is painful, and the idea that outside the EU we will be better — that’s nonsense.”

But the immediate and urgent problems Ecotricity are regulatory in nature. The last labour government of the day introduced a number of attractive incentives for companies and homeowners to use energy from renewable sources, especially wind and solar. The amount of subsidies amounted to billions of pounds, and Ecotricity since 2002, received 36 million for the construction of wind farms totaling over 100 million pounds. It helped to turn Britain into a world leader in clean energy. In 2011, nine percent of electricity in the world was gained through wind, solar and other renewable sources. In 2015, this figure reached 25%.

But when in 2015, when David Cameron received the majority of the conservatives, they abandoned the constraints their coalition partners the liberal Democrats, speaking from the standpoint of environmental protection. Now to implement “green” projects and get planning permission much more difficult. The government has also reduced the financial support for the industry. In December 2015, helping the conclusion of the Paris agreement on climate change, which sounds a Clarion call to all countries of the world to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels, the government has announced the reduction of subsidies for renewable fuels that were formed at the expense of companies and private consumers.

“They [the tories] hammer destroyed the energy renewable sources, said Vince. And they did it fraudulently, saying it will benefit the industry. Practically, they covered the solar and onshore wind power in Britain. If they brought something new? I don’t see it”.

At the same time, the government opts for the fuel extraction method of hydraulic fracturing, although this is a very controversial technology that involves the flow in the rock under immense pressure water and chemicals to release gas located there. These technologies are banned in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Scotland and Wales because their governments are concerned about the environmental issues. Official studies indicate that the extraction method of hydraulic fracturing stands at least 20% of Britons, but in October the government, ignoring the opinions of local councils in Lancashire, has approved the plans of shale gas exploration in the region. “The method of hydraulic fracturing in the extraction of gas is very risky, and the gas is very expensive, and we will not be able to afford it, if Britain intends to fulfill its obligations to reduce carbon emissions,” said Vince.

He has an alternative proposal: to produce “green” gas from the grass growing on the outskirts of farmland. Ecotricity next year, will build its first factory for the processing of biomass into gas in Hampshire, and Vince says that, theoretically, in twenty years, green fuels can be warm almost all the houses in the country. But the concept is unlikely to get support from Theresa may, who after coming to power in July has abolished the Ministry of energy and climate change, transferring its functions coarsening Department responsible for Commerce. “When it comes to green energy comes into its own ideology — said Vince. — Left for it, and against the right”.

That’s why in February 2015, he for the first time in my life donated money to the labour party. What he thinks now that the labour party in the opinion polls far behind the conservatives? “Jeremy Corbyn, a nice man. He believes that he can lead the party and lead it to victory in the General election. But I would have to place aside. The party split, and that is the real problem. The tories can do what they want”.

He believes that his role in the restoration of the positions of the left forces can play Tony Blair. “I am against “Tridentum” nuclear energy, I’m for social justice. But I’m also a practical man. What Tony Blair did with Iraq, it’s a real shame. But still more he did the right thing. I think Blair has shown himself to be fantastic, and the rumors of his return can not please me.”

If you ask Vince what he would do as Minister of energy, he immediately begins to bend the fingers: to prohibit the extraction method of hydraulic fracturing; to break a contract for construction of NPP Hinkley point C; to spend a billion dollars to improve energy efficiency; to impose taxes on polluting energy companies; perhaps even re-nationalize the energy, transferring it from the extractive companies to the companies-distributors. He also describes a powerful incentive for eco-friendly cars, citing the example of Norway, where visible results have been achieved. There due to tax benefits and incentives (exemption from VAT, the fee for Parking in public places, the use of dedicated lanes for public transport) the share of electric vehicles charging now account for more than a quarter of new car sales. “These economic signals are changing the behavior of people,” says Vince.


In childhood, Vince was amazed how much on-road car. He recalls how he constantly thought: the fuel for them will ever end. However, oil companies discover new deposits, and therefore automakers have no incentive to design and produce environmentally friendly cars. In 2008, when 40 of the most developed countries of the world on the road was less than two thousand electric cars (and in Britain they were not practically at all), Vince with his engineers decided to take the initiative.

“You know, I am a bit of a conservationist and a car enthusiast, and this is the crux of the problem. At that time I could not buy an electric car, so we bought on eBay the body of the car Lotus Exige and turned it into a supercar,” he said.

The car has received the name “Nemesis”. In 2012, she broke the speed record in Britain for electric vehicles, speeding up to 244 kilometers per hour. But Vince by the time I realized that building a car is not something that the generation of electricity. Then he began to create the infrastructure in the hope that it will accelerate the transition to electric vehicles.

“We wanted to break this vicious circle,” he said. Electric vehicles there was little, and therefore the point of charging in Britain was very rare. Consequently, it discourages the population hunting to buy electric vehicles. Ecotricity in 2011 opened a point charge at a gas station. To charge the batteries of a small five-door family hatchback Nissan Leaf with a range of 120 miles, took eight hours. “We understand that this is not enough, however, knew that some major technological improvements in capacity”.

Today the Nissan Leaf is the world’s best selling electric vehicle. Recharge for half an hour at a gas station (not full charge), it can travel nearly 130 miles. Most new electric vehicles between charges are from 150 to 240 kilometers. If earlier buyers concerned about this figure as the range of travel between charges, but now the anxiety fades. A few years on a 15 minute charge can pass more than 600 kilometers, says Vince.

The project “Electric highway” a lot of ruts and potholes. In the beginning, Ecotricity has entered into an agreement with the Californian company Tesla, which is managed by billionaire from the sphere of high technologies, the Elon Musk (Elon Musk) (the same one that intends to colonize Mars). However, in 2014 Ecotricity said that Tesla is acting behind her back, negotiating with gas stations about setting up their own charging devices. Ecotricity has applied for Tesla to court, then received a counter-claim. In June 2015 the two companies have reached an out of court settlement. (A few months later Vince was still a trial. His ex-wife, whom he divorced in 1992, having no capital claimed almost two million pounds from his condition, and received 300 thousand.)

Bet Vince on the “Electric highway” (as well as earlier wind energy) seems a smart move. According to the International energy Agency, at the end of 2015, the world was 1.26 million fully electric or hybrid vehicles, that is, three times more than in 2013. According to the IEA, by 2040, the operation will be 150 million electric cars. The share of gasoline accounted for almost 20% of the total volume of the oil it consumes, and the consequences for the refining industry will be very serious — like climate on our planet. In November, Shell declared that total oil demand in five years could reach its peak.

Ecotricity in 2011 allowed the drivers are free to use their charging points in gas stations, but in July she first introduced the Board. A half-hour charge costs about six pounds. This move angered many motorists, but Vince is not going to make excuses, saying that he needed to recoup the costs. “Not everyone needs to make money,” he says, referring to the football club and a network of recharging electric vehicles. But no matter how altruistic its motives, he has everything else and businessman.

Environmentally friendly car in Britain is still quite expensive. The cheapest model in the range the Nissan Leaf costs more than 20 thousand pounds. But the prices are lower and choice is becoming richer, and today, the country sold more than 40 models of electric and hybrid vehicles.

“The stumbling block was the range of the electric vehicle and the price. But now, the first increases and the second decreases, said Vince. Technology has reached the level of mass appeal. You’ll see, soon this will connect the state and ascribe merit to himself.”

As for Vince, this millionaire even no car. On the chair in his office in Stroud was lying helmet and jacket in which he goes to work by motorbike. Yes, this is electric motorcycle.