As I prepare for our live chat with Annie Leonard of The Story of Stuff/The Story of Broke today, I'm noting that the economy is on everyone's minds of late. Specifically, it seems that more and more people are fed up with big banks and business as usual. Rather than just complain about it though, folks are actively looking for alternatives.
Circumventing the Dinosaur Economy
Indeed, from crowdfunded alternatives to mainstream banks to community investing in "everybody eats" restaurants, there is an increasing recognition that unless banks and other financial institutions can add genuine value to the system, then we may be better off circumventing the infrastructure of the dinosaur economy and doing it ourselves.
At least that's what UK renewable energy pioneers Ecotricity are hoping. They already issued one hugely successful round of Ecobonds which offered their customers and other clean energy advocates competitive interest rates, while they were able to borrow at less than the bank would lend to them. As we discussed in our live chat with Ecotricity founder Dale Vince, that money was put to good use building one of Britain's first solar parks, as well as wind turbines at a Ford factory and a solar panel manufacturer.
Now the company is issuing a second round of Ecobonds, and is guaranteeing that the money will be put to immediate use building wind turbines and clean energy infrastructure:
Ecotricity has a strong pipeline of new green energy projects including 19 windmills with planning approval, waiting to be built – and a further 78 windmills for which it is seeking planning approval (that's enough to power over 100,000 homes) – and a target of having over 200MW of operational capacity in the next five years. It also intends to increase its investment in other renewable energy technologies, including wave-power and green gas made from organic waste. Proceeds from ecobond two will be spent in 2012, alongside money from customer’s bills, building the 19 windmills that already have planning permission – increasing Ecotricity’s green energy generation by 50%.
Ecobond Two is open for applications until Friday 16th December. Applicants must be UK residents, and there is a minimum £500 investment. Ecobonds will pay a gross annual interest rate of 6%, or 6.5% for Ecotricity customers.