My friend Martin Alder, who has died aged 69 from an embolism, was a driving force in building the renewable energy industry in Britain.
Martin led the renewable energy committee of the Association of Electricity Producers from 1992 until 2014, by which time it had become Energy UK. He also served as the association’s vice-chair, supporting renewable energy interests on the board alongside representatives from the largest British electricity companies. He steered this broad church of member companies towards policies that have increased the proportion of UK electricity provided from renewable energy from 2% in 1992 to more than 25% today.
Internationally, he was the chair of the World Renewable Energy Network.
Martin was born in Stonehouse, Gloucestershire. His mother, Annie (nee Jones), worked in service. His father, Arthur, was a clerk in the civil service. Martin went to Maidenhill secondary modern school in Stonehouse; then studied mechanical engineering at Liverpool University, graduating with a first. He met Cathryn Ogden through the Scouts and Guides when they were both teenagers, and they married in 1969.
Martin worked at British Rail and Gloucester hospital before joining Wessex Water, managing a sewage treatment works at Avonmouth. There he was instrumental in a project that stopped sewage being dumped into the Severn estuary by turning it into fertiliser granules. He moved to UK Waste, working on reducing landfill and building waste-to-energy plant, and to the engineering and planning company WS Atkins.
Then, as the electricity sector had started to open up to independent generation and supply, in 1995 he was a founder of the Renewable Energy Company and later, through Wind Direct and Optimum Energy, worked with factory owners and others across Britain to realise renewable energy projects, building rapport with people along the way. He was creative, smart and practical – and funny. He engaged enthusiastically with everyone as equals.
He was a member of the Co-operative Society and considered himself a socialist, having been a member of the Labour party and CND in the 1970s and 80s. He served as a magistrate in Stroud in the 80s and 90s and was a die-hard supporter of Liverpool football club.
Martin is survived by Cathryn, their sons, Ben and Dan, and his three grandchildren, Erin, Monty and Oscar.