The crazy, wind-powered life of Dale Vince, Britain's richest hippie

Brighter dale vince FULLWikicommonsDale Vince is now worth £107 million.

Dale Vince, the CEO of Britain’s biggest green energy supplier Ecotricity, is not your typical multimillionaire corporate executive.

He left school at 15 to join a hippie commune where he lived in an old fire engine. Through his environmental activism, he managed to turn a makeshift turbine, which generated electricity for his dilapidated travelling home on wheels, into a massive green energy empire that now has more than 155,000 customers.

But he is also famous for his legal spats.

He’s currently suing Elon Musk’s Tesla for allegedly stealing Ecotricity’s intellectual property. His ex-wife Kathleen Wyatt is also trying to claim millions of pounds in child-support cash from him, despite their divorce in 1992, four years before he even launched Ecotricity.

His life is still pretty wild. We pieced together his biography from interviews and reports from the Daily Mail, The Independent, and the Guardian.

Dale Vince was born on August 29, 1961, in Great Yarmouth, Norfolk.

Not much is known about Vince's childhood. But he must have been enthralled with Yarmouth's free and easy seaside environment from an early age ...

... because at 15, he left school to be part of a 'Peace Convoy' of hippies.

In 1981, Vince met and married Kathleen Wyatt, when he was 19 and she was 21. Wyatt already had a child from a previous relationship.

As new age travellers, they were both penniless and largely lived off state benefits.

They had a son, Dane, in 1983.

However, they separated some years later, and Wyatt subsequently raised the couple's son alone. Vince, meanwhile, drove to Spain with a new partner in a 30-year-old fire engine.

In 1992, Wyatt and Vince divorced. He reportedly traded in the fire engine for an old ambulance. He powered it with a home-made wind turbine made from recycled materials which later gave him inspiration for his future company.

He experimented at the Glastonbury festival in 1994 by charging mobile phone batteries with the use of a windmill fixed to a pylon.

But then with the help of a bank loan of an undisclosed size ...

... he launched the wind turbine business Ecotricity in 1996.

He initially set up a wind turbine on top of a hill at Nympsfield, in the Cotswolds. He not only generated a lot of power but he also generated a 'substantial income.'

As of 2015, Ecotricity has 155,000 customers, almost double the number it had a year ago, as Britons sought a green alternative to the Big Six energy firms like British Gas.

Vince is now worth £107 million. Ecotricity is worth £57 million. His son Dane now works for the company.

He owns a sports car and lives in a £3 million, 18th century castle near Stroud, with his new wife and their 5-year-old son (who have not been named by the press).

He uses his cash to also support political parties. In February this year, he said he would give £250,000 to the Labour party because there was 'an existential threat from a second-term Tory government.' Here he is defending his decision on Channel 4.

But he is also backing the re-election of the UK's only Green MP, Caroline Lucas. He is donating £20,000. Ecotricity's total donations to the Green Party are £50,000.

Meanwhile, he maintains a strict vegan diet and still sports long shaggy hair, sometimes in a ponytail. He also has an earring.

By 2004, he received an OBE from the Queen for services to the environment.

In 2010 he became a major shareholder of Forest Green Rovers FC, who play in the Conference Premier League. Three months later, he became the club chairman.

He also famously banned red meat and installed an organic football pitch at the grounds. The club uses a solar-powered lawnmower and avoids the use of chemicals.

But his fortune didn't go unnoticed. In 2011, his ex-wife Wyatt lodged a claim of £1.9 million against Vince, 20 years after their divorce. She claimed she suffered '16 years of real hardship' raising his kids without his help.

However, Britain's Court of Appeal rejected the claim that year calling the case, an 'abuse of the process.'

Vince ploughed on. In 2012, Ecotricity celebrated the 16th anniversary of one of the Britain's earliest windmills, at Lynch Knoll in Gloucestershire. Vince shared this picture to celebrate.

In 2013, he also became a doctor. Well, kind of. The University of Gloucestershire made him an Honorary Doctor of Philosophy.

Meanwhile, Ecotricity teamed up with US electric car firm Tesla, owned by Elon Musk, to build a new British electric highway. Ecotricity had already built battery chargers while Tesla was looking to sell an electric saloon car in the UK.

CEO of Tesla Motors Elon Musk waves after ringing the opening bell at the NASDAQ market in celebration of his company's initial public offering in New York June 29, 2010.

But in May 2014, that all changed after someone allegedly accidentally sent an internal Tesla email to Ecotricity.

It allegedly contained details that Tesla was going to try and encourage motorway service stations to break their contracts with Ecotricity and that it was sending two US executives over to sully Dale's firm's name.

Dale called it a 'declaration of war' to the press and Ecotricity took court action against Tesla for launching a 'smash-and-grab raid' that month. It accused the US electric car firm of stealing Ecotricity's intellectual property.

His legal troubles were not over though ...

In March 2015, his ex-wife Wyatt re-emerged again. This time, the Supreme Court ruled there was 'no time limit' for claims for financial provision for ex-spouses. It also said she could go back to the High Court. Here she is outside the court, recorded by the Press Association.

Vince branded the court's decision 'mad.'

Vince is also paying £500,000 in legal costs for both him and Wyatt. The law forces costs to be shared amongst the combined wealth of the parties. Wyatt is penniless.

Wyatt lives in a council house with her unemployed son Robin, 21, jobless teen mother Jessie, 18, and her unemployed boyfriend Ashley Lloyd, 24, and their three-month-old daughter. Her eldest daughter Emily, 36, is currently in prison.

For now, Vince will have to wait for yet another court ruling on Wyatt's claims against him.

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