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Wind farm firm's spin-inflated rep

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But by golly, Vince isn't skimping on the windmills: "One in six of all the wind projects in England today were planned and built by Ecotricity. Or looking at in another way, we produce more than 12 per cent of England's wind energy..."

Or you could look at it still another way. The British Wind Energy Association says there are over 2500 megawatts of wind plant operational as of going to press. Ecotricity admits that it has 50 megawatts of wind farm capacity to date, providing 15 megawatts output averaged over time - that is to say, less than two per cent of the UK's wind energy.

Being big in England is not a big deal in UK windfarm terms. After 12 years of effort, Ecotricity remains an insignificant wind provider - and wind provides only a tiny fraction of British energy. The company is a small minnow in a small pond as regards renewables, though it seems quite a profitable little energy-trading operation.

Nice. Who said you can't produce big, significant numbers using spin machinery?

Well, we seem to be looking at about 130 million units pa of green 'leccy from Ecotricity's windmills, which we're told was a quarter of what it sold last time it added up. The total annual units flogged must thus have been 520m odd, indicating revenues in the £50m range at current retail prices*.

For the 06/07 year, wholesale leccy was going for approximately 4p a unit on average, so buying in brown juice to resell will have set Vince back say £15m, leaving him £35m ahead. He spent £20m of that on new windmills, he says, leaving £15m for the Greenbird, running costs and whatever else was deemed appropriate.

In reality, for every pound you give Ecotricity, it will not spend a pound on windmills. Broad brush it will spend around 30p on buying brown 'leccy, 40p on windmills, and keep the rest like any other energy firm.

Forty per cent of what you pay on new windmills is still far and away more than any normal electricity company would spend. If you really really like windmills - though there are those who offer cogent reasons not to - you should surely give your money to Dale Vince so that he can buy himself some more.

Just check everything he tells you, like, rilly rilly carefully, man. Dale Vince talks the talk of a righteous hippie eco-peacenik vegan dude, but he walks the walk of The Man. ®

*Vince has a reputation for hardnosed bargaining with his corporate clients, and they don't have to chip in a penny on development for their onsite PR-bonanza wind turbines. They probably wind up paying close to retail rate; and anyway this is a minority part of the business.

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