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Renewables' bright future leads to career change

When renewables piqued his interest, Jodie Marr made the move from manufacturing to wind energy. He sees a bright future for the industry, Australia’s abundant resources make it well placed to become a world leader in renewables.

Jodie marr
Tell us a bit about yourself.

My name is Jodie Marr, I am the Site Service Manager at Gullen Range Wind Farm.

How long have you worked in renewable energy?

I have been working in the renewable energy sector for approximately seven years.

What attracted you to working in renewable energy?

From a personal perspective, my family and I had just purchased a new property and set up an off-grid power system so my interest in the sector was piqued. Around 2010, I also saw the push for the renewable energy sector to develop and grow, and in many ways indicated the renewable industry was set to expand in coming years.

How did you come to work in renewable energy? Did you transition from another industry?

Yes, I did transition - I moved over from my role as Maintenance Manager working for Austral in the brick manufacturing industry into the renewable energy industry. This transition came about when a technician role became available at Goldwind for the Gullen Range Wind Farm project, which is now owned by BJCE Australia. I am a qualified electrician and that skill, in conjunction with my increasing personal interest in the renewables sector, encouraged me to apply for the role. I was successful and joined the team as a Service Technician during the construction phase of Gullen Range Wind Farm.

What are the benefits and opportunities you see working in the renewable energy industry?

Renewable energy is a rapidly growing industry with enormous untapped potential. There will be a great deal of opportunity in various areas and these will become more evident as the sector develops and matures.

How do you see your future in the renewable energy industry?

Stable. Living in Australia we have an abundance of different opportunities for renewable energy and given the late start that we have made as a planet in addressing the climate crisis, there are many more years ahead of growth opportunity in this sector. Australia has abundant resources which can be utilised to become a world leader in the renewable energy industry. There are many more years of innovation and development ahead of us.

What do you see as the biggest challenges?

The maturity of the industry brings up challenges, one of the biggest challenges we face is training. Trying to stay ahead of all the requirements that our people need to carry out their very demanding work on turbines and all associated infrastructure.

The rapid growth and maturity of the wind industry specifically have led to difficulties in sourcing experienced technicians and personnel. For a period between 2014 and 2017, this was exacerbated by policy uncertainty however, sector confidence has now increased. The industry has turned a corner and, as such, there has been and will continue to be, many more development opportunities.

As the industry grows, experience evolves and increases. Our systems and structure are improved daily. Because of that growth, we are now seeing increasing interest and strong applicants are starting to apply and show interest in the renewable energy sector.

What are the community benefits you see in your local community via renewable energy?

There are quite a few renewable energy projects in my local community with a broad range of benefits. Looking at Gullen Range Wind Farm, it is maintained by 14 full-time local staff, all employed by Goldwind Australia. The owner of the wind farm, BJCE Australia, has a number of active community initiatives as well. There is the Community Enhancement Fund which provides approximately $75,000 per annum for nearby community projects. There is also the Clean Energy Program which provides grants to nearby residents so they can improve the energy efficiency of their homes by installing solar panels or solar hot water systems. The wind farm regularly sponsors local teams such as the rugby league team and run an active schools’ program which involves hosting visits for knowledge-hungry students. The wind farm brings economic benefits through the support of local businesses such as the hardware shop, uniform shops, cafes and restaurants, the post office, supermarket, and accommodation providers. We also use local contractors to provide onsite services such as cleaning, weed spraying and more.