This month FOCUS introduces David Mailler and Methuen Morgan. David and Methuen are the Executive Directors and Co-Founders of Meralli Solar. Meralli Solar took out top honours at the 2018 Armidale Regional Business Awards in the Start Up Super Star Category, as well as Business of the Year.
Tell us a little about yourself.
David: I see myself as a husband, father, farmer, businessman, student and activist. Clare and I have three children, are both busy running our own businesses and together we manage a small grazing property at Uralla. I am naturally concerned by sustainability and our regional community wellbeing.
Methuen: I’m the father of tree – two fine young men, as well as a little girl who keeps me very much on my toes. In my former life I was a QLD cattle farmer, before moving to Armidale to pursue studies at the University of New England.
So how did it feel taking out top honours?
David: As a business that is only a little over a year old, we are humbled and honoured by both the opportunities and recognition we have achieved. We’d both like to congratulate the Armidale Business Chamber for running an excellent night, and to thank the sponsors of our category the Regional Australia Bank, because without businesses who give back to their communities, this kind of Awards event isn’t possible.
What led you to start up Meralli Solar?
Methuen: While we both have extensive experience running Agribusinesses, I am also an Environmental Psychologist, and Dave has a Bachelor of Sustainability. And, we were sick of sitting around worried about the future of our children in the face of climate change and its more immediate impact on our rural communities. So, when we got the opportunity to do something about it, we leapt at it.
What does Meralli Solar do?
David: We build utility scale solar farms in the 200 kW to 30 MW range. The solar farm industry has – until now – been limited by significant build timeframes, high cost of installation, and high build costs. The model Meralli Solar has allows regional Australia to take control of their energy requirements by providing fast, high-quality, world-class and cost-effective solar farm installations for small-scale utility or community solar farms, that can be privately funded, and will happily sit side-by-side with the agricultural industry.
What is so unique about what Meralli Solar does?
David: Our construction method means we can deliver high-quality installations faster and more cheaply than anyone else in the industry. We are the world leading experts in the Belectric PEG System. Our unique installation process is effectively reducing build times from years to weeks, while maintaining the highest quality standards. Not bad for a couple of middle-aged farmers who simply want to leave the world a better place for our children.
Who is your target market?
Methuen: Regional Australia leads Photovoltaic capacity builds, as regional communities develop strategies to take advantage of the electricity revolution. Micro and small-scale renewable projects are gaining traction, with increasing enquiry looking into energy security solutions. Solar provides an opportunity for regional users to reduce energy bills during summer peak demand and provides cost saving opportunities for regional Councils powering high consumption use such as water treatment. There is increasing demand for smaller scale plants which cannot be cost effectively delivered by Meralli competitors.
Where to from here?
David: We are working on a range of opportunities such as industrial estates – behind the pole; regional and remote tourism facilities; large agribusinesses such as feedlots; and regional communities currently at the end of the electricity grid. Last year we built two utility scale solar farms. This year sees no less than four confirmed projects totalling approximately 37 Megawatts of DC generation, and we have a further 10 projects under development.
Anything you would like to add?
Methuen: We’d like to thank our Chief Engineer, Rob Mailler and Relationship Manager, Peter Mailler, whose lead in our pilot installation at Chillamurra, NSW, has made all this possible. Further, we would have struggled to be where we are without the dedication of the Meralli team, in particular Helen Hall and Geoff Dare. Of course, we both must thank our ever-patient families, who have supported us in this endeavour. We travel a lot!
David: We are proud to call the New England our home; our Head Office is based in Uralla and our respective family homes are located in both Uralla and Armidale. We are committed to using local services and business houses, and to this end would like to thank BackTrack Youth Works, Kinelli, Pinnacle People Solutions, and Vivid Thinking, who are partnering with us on our journey.
Methuen: As a growing business headquartered in the New England, we hope to contribute to the “call to arms” set by our new CEO, Susan Law at the Awards Gala evening keynote address, to establish the “Armidale (region) as the benchmark for regional cities.
Thank you, David and Methuen.
*The interviewer is a supplier to Meralli Solar and is also the partner of one of its founders.