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Ecotricity boss in world record bid

PUBLISHED: 10:10 21 August 2008 | UPDATED: 15:56 02 June 2010

Two intrepid Britons, including the man behind landmark wind turbines in Norfolk, are trying to set a new world record using a carbon-neutral vehicle which combines aircraft technology with Formula One speeds.

Two intrepid Britons, including the man behind landmark wind turbines in Norfolk, are trying to set a new world record using a carbon-neutral vehicle which combines aircraft technology with Formula One speeds.

Dale Vince, managing director of Ecotricity - the company which runs the two turbines at Swaffham and who is battling to get two turbines at Shipdham, near Dereham - and engineer Richard Jenkins want to break the 116.7mph land speed record in their wind-powered vehicle (WPV) The Greenbird.

Mr Vince, currently preparing Down Under for the record attempt on Lake Lefroy in western Australia, said the team was following in the footsteps of British racer Donald Campbell, who used several cars and boats named Bluebird to break speed records in the 1920s and 30s.

Unseasonal weather has delayed initial trials, but a spokesman for the Gloucester-based team said the two might attempt to break the record next week.

“Cars of the future won't be running on fossil fuels, they will be running on renewable sources of energy like the wind. And with today's technology we can achieve incredible speeds, using only wind power,” said Mr Vince.

“Donald Campbell's all-conquering Bluebird achieved incredible speeds in a golden age of fossil fuels - when oil was cheap and no one had thought that one day it would run out. Fast forward to today and we are coming to the end of the age of fossil fuels and the dawn of the age of renewables. The Greenbird symbolises this historical watershed better than anything else,” he added.

The Greenbird, which is the culmination of 10 years' hard work, is a land yacht which relies on solid sails like an aircraft wing.

Her vertical sail pushes the vehicle forward in the same way that air flows over an aircraft's horizontal wing and pushes the aircraft up. This force enables the craft to travel between four to six times the real wind speed, depending on the surface traction.

Mr Vince became involved in the Greenbird project as a result of his dedication to wind-power technol-ogy. His pioneering power company Ecotricity has been building wind turbines and selling green electricity across the country since 1996.

See today's EDP2 for a feature on a trip up one of the Swaffham turbines.

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