About this time last year, we launched our first ecobond – a fairly radical idea at the time.
We had three principle aims:
To give our customers the chance to share in the financial benefits of our work and the green energy revolution generally, without having to put things on their roof tops (which doesn’t work for everyone).
To cut out the middlemen bankers who generally charge much more to borrowers than they pay to savers.
And to raise new sources of finance to speed up the rate at which we can build new sources of green energy. Bridging our ‘funding gap’.
And when we launched it this time last year we were both excited and a little anxious, as to how it might be received. (more…)
For a better price, a greener outcome, or better customer service.
These seem to be the big three.
Customer Service is perhaps the most overlooked of them all – it’s the one where customers have least data to compare – to actually identify a better service.
Switching for this reason will often be a reaction to bad service with their current provider and at the same time a leap in the dark – often out of the frying pan and into the fire.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Since October 2009 OFGEM has obliged all energy companies to record and report their annual customer complaints in a standardised way – making them easily comparable (potentially).
But most people won’t know this and won’t have seen any figures – because they get buried on individual supplier websites. They take some digging out, truth be told. (more…)
It’s actually the world’s first national charging network for electric cars. That may sound a bit grand, for something quite wonderfully simple – a series of charging posts installed at motorway services up and down the country. Charging stations, for electric cars, that are easy to access and free to use (yes free). Enabling Britain’s electric car drivers to drive the length and breadth of the country – with all the convenience of simply pulling into a motorway service station to top up. We’re pretty chuffed with it, truth be told.
You may have read about already it in the Sunday Times this weekend. You shouldn’t have, but they broke the embargo on our story three days early for some reason – perhaps they’re a bit keen for stories that don’t involve phone hacking. Bless…. 🙂
Anyway – Why are we building this Electric Highway? There are after all only some 2,000 electric cars on the road today. In fact that’s a big part of the reason – a lack of demand.
It’s often said that one of the reasons more people don’t buy electric cars is because of a lack of charging facilities – while the reason more charging facilities aren’t built is said to be because not enough people are buying electric cars – classic chicken and egg stuff. We’re hoping to break that impasse.
And at the same time another barrier to the faster take up of Electric Cars – is something called ‘range anxiety’ – the fear of running out of juice when doing any kind of serious distance. (more…)
I popped up to Lincolnshire last week for the big switch on of our first Sun Park.
It’s a 1MW installation next door to our existing 16MW Wind Park – making it not just the first proper Sun Park in the UK but the first Hybrid Energy Park.
That’s something we’re pretty keen on, the combination of two intermittent, but complementary, forms of Renewable Energy – we think the likely outcome will be a smoothing effect. The sun and the wind tend to come at different times. Now that it’s up and running we get to test the theory and we’ll keep you posted. (more…)
It looked like a Brave New World when Feed-in Tariffs were announced last April – the opportunity to build large scale ground mounted solar projects – something not uncommon in other parts of Europe, but absent in Britain.
We’re building the UK’s very first Sun Park right now, next to our big Wind Park in Lincolnshire and it should be up and running in April. But it might be the UK’s first and last, if the government delivers on the rhetoric of the last few weeks.
Ecotricity has over 50MW of Wind Parks now, with about 200MW more in planning – it’s taken us fifteen years to get here BTW. We see the potential to build enough Sun Parks to achieve a 50/50 mix of wind and sun – in as little as two years time – because solar projects have none of the planning problems that onshore wind does. And these two sources of energy are complementary, for example you get more of one in the winter and more of the other in the summer. And we’re expecting to learn a lot, as an energy company, from one of the world’s first hybrid Wind and Sun projects (the first project we’re building). It’s very much a Brave New World. (more…)
Late last year Ecotricity launched a new initiative and, as it turns out, a new product. We dubbed it Ecobonds and it was a runaway success.
We set out to raise £10 million and we actually received some £15 million in applications with another £3 million that didn’t make it in on time. It was a huge success.
We’d been considering launching a bond issue for a year or two. We had two main purposes in mind.
The first was to fill a funding gap that we knew would arrive one day. Our model at Ecotricity is to use customer energy bills to build new sources of Green Energy – something we describe as “turning Bills into Mills” and it’s a model that works very well. When we build a new Green Energy project we use a mixture of debt and equity, typically 80% debt and 20% equity. We fund the 20% equity from our own resources, from the money we make. And we’ve always known the day would come when our project pipeline, those consented and ready to build, would outstrip our ability to self fund the equity part. Creating the Funding Gap. (more…)
This blog is about answers to the big questions - how will we keep the lights on, what kind of cars will we drive (will we drive?) and how will we feed ourselves - in a post oil world, and a world where we can't afford to keep burning things and throwing things away. Energy, Transport and Food are the three big issues.