Tamworth’s Ben Wynn is on a winner with Wynergy.
In 2013 Mr Wynn recognised that the need for renewable energy generation would always clash with the need for productive farmland in Australia, so he invented a way to do both.
Wynergy is a solar tracking system that generates power while also allowing grazing, and even cropping, to continue underneath. Recent studies are also suggesting the shade from the panels can even improve pasture and soil health as well.
Recently Wynergy was given a shot in the arm that Mr Wynn hopes might land him in the investor spotlight.
The company beat seven other startups from all over the state to win the Jobs For NSW Regional Pitchfest in Sydney.
“I was really surprised on the night – the other businesses were phenomenal,” he said.
“It was also a great networking opportunity – one of the other companies there and I have already talked about modifying machinery for cropping under the panels.”
The award also gave him a chance to go on a trip to India with the Sydney School of Entrepreneurship, where Mr Wynn could gain access to one of the largest solar industries on the globe, while he also hopes the exposure can land Wynergy in front of Atlassian co-founder and innovation advocate Mike Cannon-Brookes.
The original idea was to pay farmers royalties, equivalent to approximately $10,000 per 10 acres annually, to host the panels on their properties, with the energy generated being fed back into the national grid and sold to retailers.
While that model remains the primary focus, Mr Wynn is hoping to roll out the first two models early next year to two cattle feedlots, who will buy the systems outright and use the power to cut diesel costs and the panels to provide shade.
“I knew there had to be a way to combine renewable energy with agriculture – it was a community issue that needed solving,” Mr Wynn said.
“Now I am hoping to gain some investment or use grants to build scale and capacity quickly so I can drive down production costs and compete with the larger energy companies.”
Unfortunately the landscape construction guru, turned teacher, turned entrepreneur was yet another victim of Australia’s political instability.
Earlier this year he was deep in negotiations with global giants Yamaha when then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull backflipped on his commitment to the National Energy Guarantee (NEG).
Shortly after Mr Turnbull was ousted, and the Japanese company withdrew its offer, citing a lack of confidence in Australia’s commitment to renewable targets.
“Yamaha were very keen, and they are still interested in having another look early next year but it is all good,” he said.
“The Wynergy system works – I just need to put the finishing touches on the design of these first two systems and roll them out.”