The million pound idea: 20 years on

Dale Vince founded the Ecotricity company - which specialises in selling green energy. Credit: ITV News

It's 20 years since a former new age traveller called Dale Vince noticed that a hill near a Gloucestershire village was unusually windy.

It gave him the idea that turned him into a millionaire.

Living in a caravan - he saw the opportunity to put up a wind turbine machine.

I'd been using a little windmill to power my trailer for a few years, and wherever you park, when you live like that, you knew if it was windy or not, because the windmill powered your life. So I knew it was a windy hill.

Dale Vince, Founder of Ecotricity
People initially objected to the plan. Credit: ITV West Country

Dale Vince founded the Ecotricity company - which specialises in selling green energy.

The project wasn't without controversy. Local people demonstrated against the plans, claiming that the windmill would have an adverse effect on house prices and be an ugly white elephant:

Now, the company employs 800 people.

Dale owns a football club and captured a British land speed record with a specially built electric car, the Nemesis - powered by wind.

The flaw in generating electricity this way is that when the air is still, typically during cold frosty periods, there's no wind.

But now Dale now has plans for supplying the country with alternative energy, from a machine which digests grass and turns it into gas.

Credit: ITV West Country

It's been possible to make gas from anaerobic digestion for a number of years, the conventional way is to feed that is with food waste or energy crops and they both have big issues environmentally. We came up with a new way: just grass.

Dale Vince, Founder of Ecotricity

So, 20 years on, does he regard his wind turbine as a beauty?

Here's the full report: