Ecotricity have partnered with engineer Richard Jenkins, the founder of the Windjet Project, in pursuit of the perfect wind and new land & ice world speed records of wind-powered vehicles.
The latest design crafts are called The Greenbird, and Dale Vince (Ecotricity founder & MD) and Richard will pursue a land wind speed record in March 2009 in California, and the ice record in late 2009.
Ecotricity bring to the partnership their vision, commitment and experience of renewable energy plus wind technology & engineering. Richard Jenkins brings his vision and passion for wind-powered travel plus extensive hands-on design, engineering, construction and piloting experience.
Both have very successful histories of entrepreneurship, independence and world class achievement against tremendous obstacles. Together, the 100% British team are shaping a glimpse of the future through their cutting edge research & design, and then its practical applications in producing new technologies in wind engineering and transport.
Dale left school at 15 with no desire to lead an ‘ordinary’ life – to chase the mortgage or career society expects us to. Searching for an alternative way to live he quit towns and houses to live in a series of buses and trucks in Britain and Europe. In the early 90’s he was living on a hill just outside Stroud, in an ex-military vehicle, using a small windmill for his power. That’s when he was inspired to ‘drop in’ - to make a bigger difference in the world than he had been able to make personally by living a low impact lifestyle.
His focus? The electricity industry; to promote the use of large-scale wind energy, to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. He fought tooth and nail to build his first turbine, he now has over 50 up and down the UK and runs the UK’s leading independent electricity supplier, Ecotricity, which he founded in 1995.
A man of many contradictions – Dale’s a businessman in ripped jeans and an environmentalist with a love of fast cars. He’s a hippie who loves hard work and dogged perseverance. An engineer who likes to change things as well as make things.
Ecotricity is all about changing things – the journey to low carbon living and the next Industrial Revolution. It empowers people to bring about this change through their electricity bills – by turning those electricity bills into windmills. Over the last four years they’ve spent an average £460 per customer, per year, building New sources of green electricity – that’s more than a typical household bill in the UK.
Ecotricity supply about 35,000 homes and about 3,500 small businesses up and down the country, plus about a dozen very large companies - such as Sainsbury’s, the Guardian, Ford and Co-operative Bank to name a few. The Soil Association are partners and customers; as are the Ecologist magazine, OXFAM and Christian Aid.
You can join Dale at his blog www.zerocarbonista.com which is a discussion about life post-oil and post-carbon. It's about the big questions - how will we keep the lights on, what kind of cars will we drive and how will we feed ourselves - in this next Industrial Revolution.
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Richard Jenkins started the Windjet Project in 1999 while studying Mechanical Engineering at Imperial College. Since then, he has designed, built and tested 4 separate speed record craft on land, ice and water.
He started his sailing and engineering career at an early age, dinghy sailing at 10, partime work on the last airworthy Short Sunderland flying boat at 12, joining the Air Cadet Corps, building a (too) radical International Moth dinghy in his early-teens and later, yacht racing. He did design work for super maxi's while at college, and at the other end of the spectrum helped to sail 'The Matthew' – a replica of John Cabot’s 13th century galleon in which the explorer discovered Newfoundland.
Upon completion of university, he devoted himself full-time to the assault on the world records, traveling worldwide in pursuit of perfect conditions, optimal workshops & technology partners.
The vehicles are now highly evolved with some impressive performance figures under their belt. The Windjet Project has only been able to reach this advanced stage through the generous support of technical partners and official suppliers, who have provided the project with equipment and expertise, free of charge.
The renaming of the Windjet Project to The Greenbird Project was undertaken to signify the partnership with Ecotricity, who are providing financial and technical support to the project, as well as being involved on a practical level.
The project activity in research and design of further wind technologies can then be used in other commercial and domestic applications. The technology used in the development of The Greenbird, and lessons learned from the record attempt, will ultimately be incorporated into designs for the next generation of super-efficient micro turbines, a technology that Ecotricity is developing to bring wind power to the masses.
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