Green Energy for Green Thumbs

Green Energy for Green Thumbs

Yates Electrical Services recently teamed up with global brand ABB to create an insight into how international businesses are working together to create valuable opportunities with far-reaching outcomes.

Watch the video after the jump...


I hate gardening.

Don't get me wrong though, I love nature, I just don't appreciate it being trudged through my house. I don't dislike gardening because it requires me to be outside, or because I have any irrational fears of ceramic gnomes - I just hate gardening because it's one of those things in life that I'm exceptionally bad at.

No, I mean, like, I'm REALLY bad at it.

As an example, in my last job I had a cactus on my desk... A gift from a colleague who decided my desk looked deplorably empty and needed to find some way to rectify the situation without my express consent. The cactus - after a level of neglect which should probably have ended in prison time - died. I mourned, briefly... This was a very important day for me. It was the day I discovered that - at least when it came to horticulture - my horticultural skills were less forgiving than a desert. Some of the most arid and inhospitable places on this planet were more equipped to keep a plant alive than I was, and I even had access to flowing water; and Google.

Yet, even after that realisation, it took me moving to the rural community of Renmark to truly understand just how important people who are actually good at gardening are, and how imperative a cog they are in the great global commerce machine. There is a real disconnect from city-based consumers about how fragile the equilibrium of our primary industries are, with even the slightest changes in policy having long-lasting - and sometimes drastic effects on the livelihood of many who rely on these industries as a primary source of income.

Redmud Green Energy - an initiative of Yates Electrical Services, was designed to offer land-owners and growers supplementary income streams predominantly to reduce their reliance on fluctuations in the volatile primary production markets. By installing large scale solar installations on their properties, farmers now have the opportunity to diversify their businesses, opening their individual enterprises up to markets which have previously been unavailable in rural areas.

"Our farmers, being such an integral component of Australian industry, should be able to operate with a level of independence which doesn't traditionally accompany any sentiment driven market. I think it's easy to forget how important these people are when you're almost disconnected from it mentally."

Yet, much like the national and international markets in which our primary producers operate, it's easy to overlook the diligence that takes place from those businesses making these opportunities possible.

ABB, a global brand recognised not only for the amazing work they do on the renewable energy front, but also for their advanced robotics - have been supplying the Redmud Green Energy project with their renewable energy solutions since the project's inception.

Through the Redmud Green Energy project, Yates Electrical Services - with the support of ABB, have spent the past 2 years working with local land owners to reactivate redundant land parcels to create new forms of income for primary producers, and so far the community support for the project has been overwhelming, with over 30 large scale solar farms constructed on rural properties in South Australia in just over 2 years; and another 40 projects currently planned for roll-out this year alone.

"For us, sure, it's important to have a solid business structure in place and offer a great product, but what we consider far more important - far more vital is the relationships we have with our suppliers, and how that relationship translates to offering value and quality to our customers," said Mark Yates, Director of Yates Electrical Services, "that's why we felt ABB genuinely aligned with our own values, and through our investigations and dealings with their team, we decided that their 50kW inverter was ideal, and essentially the perfect solution for what we needed on these solar farms."

"It's quite interesting, on a personal level to visit the end result," said Adrian Amato, the Residential and Commercial Channel Manager for ABB Australia, "I feel blessed, to be part of a project like this."

Sam Albanese, a Riverland based farmer who was one of the first in the region to embrace the new technology, has now built 2 large-scale solar farms on properties he owns in Renmark to support his existing farming enterprise.

"We had a patch of vines that wasn't performing quite as well as we would have liked, so we thought 'shall we remove it and replant it to vines, or shall we try something different?'."

Sam, along with his brother Gino made the decision to install the 2 solar farms after discussing the idea with Mark Yates and realising the financial benefits the installations could provide their business, not only in the reduced power costs involved with cultivating their land, but also from the supplementary income which was generated through the sale of the excess electricity to the National Electricity Market.

I recently had the opportunity to speak with Marco Trova while he was in Melbourne demonstrating ABB's new line of 120kW String Inverters. Marco is ABB's Global Product Manager, who has been working for ABB since 1984 and has been heavily involved in - not only the design, but the implementation of many of the current ABB Inverter products which are being utilised by projects such as Redmud Green Energy globally.

"Many of these farmers have no longer the ability to keep their traditional business," said Marco, "so they have to convert their business, which is of course one of the beauties of solar technology."

Like any well-oiled machine operating at peak capacity, it becomes easy to forget the intricacy of each of the moving parts which make up the whole, but modern ease of technology, and the frontiers which are being pushed with businesses working in unison are sure to still surprise us for many years to come, particularly when they are addressing issues which stem to the very core of humanity.

That being said, I still have no intention of mowing the lawn any time soon.