Get to know Derick Martins, our new Solar Energy and Battery specialist at Solar Energy Australia
Five weeks into the job since appointing Derick Martins, we thought it was time to ask this self-confessed battery-obsessive what makes him tick.
So, what have you been up to these last five weeks?
I was taken on to help with all things batteries, but I’ve very quickly, very organically grown into running Powerbox’s subsidiary company, Solar Energy Australia. The solar industry has been under pressure from low-cost solar power supplies from China and Solar Energy Australia is uniquely positioned to reinvigorate the domestic solar energy market. There are exciting opportunities ahead.
We recently secured the Australian rights to distribute Polarium’s new Lithium-ion battery – which is a highly preferred product in our target industries such as telecoms and defence.
With your battery know-how you could go anywhere. Why Powerbox?
That’s easy. It’s just a fantastic company to work for, on many levels. The fact that it’s family owned really flows through to how they do things, there is a genuine family feel throughout the company.
Marc and James do an amazing job of mixing that family feel with absolute professionalism. Even though they’re so good at what they do, they are always listening to their people, learning and absorbing.
You don’t find that mix in many companies in this industry. It really is the best of both worlds at Powerbox.
What were you doing before Powerbox came into your life?
Nearly 20 years of batteries - Designing, distributing and integrating systems for power company clients across Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. To name a couple for context, I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot at Red Earth, and I also took some leaps forward professionally as the ANZ and Pacific Island rep for the American giant, Outback Power.
Nearly 20 years and still going strong, how did you get so into batteries?
I’ve had a natural interest in circuits and the technology as long as I can remember.
The focus on batteries was mostly about being in the right place at the right time. I could see where the big picture of power supply was headed and that batteries would play a massive role in the future.
What challenges has the battery industry faced?
The biggest most frustrating issue centred around how primitive the technology used to be and the enduring negative perception that people were left with about batteries.
Decades ago, when the serious conversations started about batteries being part of the global warming solution, helping to move us away from fossil fuels, the technology and longevity just wasn’t there. There were so many poorly performing products that were so incredibly expensive, and people don’t forget experiences like that.
How’s the future looking?
Thankfully, the future is really, really rosy for batteries. Even if I say the technology has reached a major milestone, that’s still a big understatement. We’re in a different world now when it comes to the price, performance and quality of batteries. The affordability, reliability and capability now enables batteries to power our most essential, demanding industries like the military, transport, telecoms and utilities.
To put that in context, when I first got involved with batteries, a one kilowatt solar system would have set you back $17,000. Now you can get a six kilowatt system installed and ready to run for only $3,500.
What do you do when not obsessing about batteries?
At the moment, I’m actually obsessing about batteries in my free time, because I’m looking at buying a Tesla and currently researching availability.
But I do actually do other things in my free time normally. Lots of fishing whenever I can, and I also make pens from timber by spinning a lathe at 4,500 revs, just for fun.