Friday 25 August 2017

A Nice Bit of Green on Green Action

One of the funnier things in the 'green energy' space is the sight of competing greens going for each other's throats.   Nothing unusual about a bit of strife in any walk of life; except that greens tend to imagine themselves to be untainted by the dark side, inhabiting a world of virtue, moral superiority, and general sweetness and solar-powered light.

But who do they imagine will build the enterprises they support so vehemently, to harvest the sun and the wind, the moonbeams and the pixie-dust?  Capitalists, that's who!  People who know free money when they smell it , and make a bee-line for it: out of my way, ain't nothing gonna get between me and free money.  Well what did they expect?

Speaking of bees, let's start with Mark Shorrock.  "He keeps honeybees" gushes his website.  He also keeps after public subsidies, in particular for his crazy Swansea Tidal Lagoon (on which, I am pleased to say, the Tories have fallen silent, after a hint in the 2015 manifesto they were going to pour public money its way).  He also has rather destructive plans for the Cornish countryside; and a lot of questionable "related party" transactions with his wife's company, AIM-listed Good Energy, that have got right up the noses of Good Energy shareholders.

Amongst the largest of whom is Dale Vince, one of the most prominent green entrepreneurs and another who would have you believe he is as innocent as a new-born lamb (or tomato, I suppose, since he promotes veganism).  Google his dealings with his ex wife for a character reference, if you are interested.  His firm, Ecotricity (privately held) and the windfarm subsidies it has garnered, have made him extremely wealthy - enough to buy around a quarter of Good Energy, with whom he has been in a less-than-fraternal "who's the greenest?" slagging match for many years.  

Sadly for spectators, the planned showdown - an EGM for Vince to force a vote on his claim to a couple of Good Energy directorships - seems to have been deferred.  But to say Vince has "surrendered" is to misunderestimate the man, who is as ruthless a British businessman as I have ever encountered this side of the law, and has by far the deeper pockets relative to Mr & Mrs Shorrock.  More fun and games to come, it's fair to guess.



Anonymous said...

I have a relative who buys from Good Energy, she proses on about it as though she is savingthe planet thereby. That's before Mr Shorrock (funded by Good Energy it seems) blows up Cornwall for the granite he needs for his lagoon. I looked up Mrs Shorrock, a.k.a. Juliet Davenport and it seems she likes playing polo! Nice work if you can get it.

rwendland said...

It's all very entertaining, but a £9 million stake for 25% of a competitor is small beer compared to what goes on in the nuclear (green?) industry. Erstwhile competitors of the French nuclear industry Mitsubishi and Japan Nuclear Fuel Limited have somewhat crazily ponied up €500m earlier this year for a 10% stake in restructured Areva. I guess in both cases it is positioning for a possible future merger. I guess the Japanese will get a board position for their 10% - I think Dale Vince should as well for 25%.

NB I do agree the economics of Swansea Tidal Lagoon do looked well beyond terrible last time I looked at it 2 years ago. Can't imagine it has changed much. Was much amused that the economics depend a lot on how boulders roll! The angle of the tidal lagoon walls have a huge impact on the construction cost (think size of base of triangles). The wildly divergent cost estimates seemed largely determined on what angle different engineers thought would be reliable over 100 years.

NB2 I do feel a bit sorry for Dale Vince having to pay the legal costs of his former spouse's legal action started about 20 years after the divorce. Divorce law permits costs to be charged to the combined resources of both parties, seemingly without time limit.

Nick Drew said...

Mr W - yes, the economics of the lagoon are crazy. 2 years ago (before the recent round of wind cost reductions) Shorrock declared he needed £168/MWh x 15 years. When he noticed everyone was snorting with disbelief, he came back asking for a 90-year contract (sic) with unconventional indexation which, using smoke & mirrors, could be made to look a bit cheaper than offshore wind, maybe, some years hence. In the meantime, by his own admission his capex costs have gone up - so if rebased back to the 'usual' 15-year deal, he must by definition be needing more than £168 ...

(he also assures us the cost of the 5 lagoons he proposes by way of an encore will fall progressively, based on the 'lessons learned' from the pathfinder at Swansea. Fat chance! If he were, somehow, to get a CfD for Swansea, you can bet he'd cash it in straight away: that's his MO. His accounts make very interesting reading, particularly the loan notes he's issued)

Anonymous said...

My understanding is that he separated from his ex wife years before he made any money. He defended a very significant claim by her against him. Not sure what the issue is in this respect?

Graeme said...

You should check out backingfracking on Facebook. It looks as if the eco warriors are doing their best... Reminiscent of the Greenham Common brigade

Dick the Prick said...

@ND - they've been giggling at Private Eye for Eyes passim.

James Higham said...

My cucumbers are storing massive numbers of sunbeams this summer. Winter will be a doddle.

rwendland said...

ND, yep, looked at his Shire Oak Energy Limited accounts and there certainly seem several things I'd want to understand better!

The £168/MWh certainly seems light - I think it was based on a 6.5% discount rate for the finance (2014 Poyry report) which seems ridiculous without additional government guarantees for the loans. Nuclear looks for 9% to 15% annual private finance costs, and this seems similarly risky.

Note the £168/MWh is for a 35 year CfD in the Poyry report. For a 15 year CfD it forecasts £214/MWh - see page 21.

To be fair, the Swansea follow-ons should be more economic as they are larger and area goes up radius squared but wall length is proportional to radius. So maths is on their side here.

Nick Drew said...

Mr W: the 'follow-on lagoon' is a dubious concept, according to our favourite energy analysts @ EnergyMatters

they say (with loads of careful work, as usual - see and

(a) the more lagoons you have in the Bristol Channel, the less effective each of them becomes (and, you'd have to imagine, the dodgier the impact on the environment - not that Shorrock seems to care much abt that)

(b) there are only 2 really good locations in UK waters for lagoons: Bristol Channel and the NW (Morecambe Bay etc), and by an amazing coincidence the tides are 6 hours apart between the 2, meaning (on a twice-in, twice-out per day basis) that their power generation is thereby synchronised, making the variable - though predictable - load of lagoons into the grid even more unhelpful! (i.e discounting its value even further)

Electro-Kevin said...

Never mind Green on Green. Looks like we could be getting some Yellow on Yellow soon.

Anomalous Cowshed said...

Have met Shorrock.

He is a complete twat.

That is all.