Growing opportunities to drive innovation in Ballarat

David Sanders and his wife Bronwyn have installed solar systems worth over three megawatts of electricity since they moved to Ballarat in 2005, enough to power around 3000 homes. 

POWER IN SOLAR: Ballarat resident David Sanders has a vision for the future of Ballarat as a driver of innovation. He is playing his part in offering cutting edge technology in the solar industry. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

POWER IN SOLAR: Ballarat resident David Sanders has a vision for the future of Ballarat as a driver of innovation. He is playing his part in offering cutting edge technology in the solar industry. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

The installations came from their small family business Smart Options, specialising in domestic and commercial installation of solar power.

Mr Sanders has worked to be at the cutting edge of solar technology as it has changed over time. 

“In the early days, we would be paying $12 to $15 a watt for solar power. Now solar panels are 60 to 70 cents a watt. That economies of scale with this type of business has meant it is available to everybody,” he said. 

“We have designed and built a solar hot water system and panels. 

“Solar is going to save you money for the next 25 and it pays for itself in two and a half years. It is a no brainer.”

Mr Sanders grew up in Creswick and spent 20 years living in Bendigo, then time in Albury before returning to Ballarat in 2005. 

In 2010, he and his wife began developing the Ballarat Exhibition Centre, with a vision of providing a large undercover space for the city to hold events like the antiques and vintage fair and car shows. 

The pair were forced to lease out the centre after failing to achieve the support to operate it as a viable business. 

David Sanders has designed and built solar hot water systems and solar panels. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

David Sanders has designed and built solar hot water systems and solar panels. Picture: Jeremy Bannister

Mr Sanders has since directed more attention to their solar business.

He said Ballarat had the potential to be a driver of innovation. 

“We have got a history in Ballarat of actually making things happen.

“I hope we actually jump on board and make opportunities grow for employment.”

Mr Sanders said nanotechnology could be an industry for growth in Ballarat, a regional city which he thinks has the potential to be a driver in innovation. 

“It is a $170 billion industry around the world and it is something that Ballarat should be jumping on board with.

“We have just seen Michelle Simmons (Quantum Physicist) get Australian of the year.  

“We have got industries here like our food industry and our paint industry and water technology in that nanotechnology space. I am really passionate about trying to bring jobs to the town.”

Mr Sanders, who is also a member of Committee for Ballarat, has high hopes for the future of the city.

His vision includes development of the airport for heavy lift planes and medium commuter airlines, promoting market gardening development on volcanic soil to the east of Ballarat, and working in conjunction with other regional cities like Bendigo to grow and develop rather than compete. 

For more information on Committee for Ballarat’s More than Gold campaign search @morethangold.ballaratstories on social media.

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