Tech Talk with Raymond Pratt

February 8, 2016


Ray you’re 35, you’re an Arrernte man from Alice Springs. You’re an electrician – like your Dad and you’ve established, over 10 years, a national electrical contracting business. DICE Australia. And you’re into a lot of cutting edge technology so tell us how you did it.


Well DICE initially was just an electrical business once upon a time it stood for Domestic, Industrial and Commercial Electrical, never an acronym because one it’s a mouthful and two we didn’t want to get boxed into only doing electrical. Always wanted to jump out and get into general construction and other things. We’ve done basically by – obviously a lot of hard work and a good bit of strategic partnering in the last few years which has got us to that national level.


And you’re working on a big programme of delivering solar energy out to remote communities in the Northern Territory. Can you tell us a bit about that?


Well we’re at second stage tendering so it’s not in the bag just yet. I believe we’re in the box seat for the solar setup programme. Solar energy transformation programme in the Northern Territory. It’s basically 10 meg of solar through over thirty communities and what it’s going to actually do is basically offset the cost of diesel in these remote areas.


And one of the features you’ve been taking up is storage. Batteries, tell us a bit about what you’re doing there.

RAYMOND PRATT: Yeah, so one of the companies, AllGrid Energy -- so we’ve got the DICE group and that consists of DICE Australia, that’s the main beast, and the subsidiary companies, DICE contracting and AllGrid Energy. So AllGrid Energy has released a 10KwH battery storage system and it’s a residential storage system. It’s based at the residential market. So what it actually allows customers to do is save money by putting power back in the hands of the consumer. And so a high level pass over of how it works is basically the sun hits the solar panels on the roof. Creates energy and you either use that energy or you feed it back to the grid. Which is fine if you have a high feed in tariff otherwise it may become more economically viable to use a battery storage system such as the WattGrid 10 which is our first release.

PRIME MINISTER: So Ray you are a real role model. You’re a young indigenous guy, you’ve started a business in a cutting edge field. You’re employing innovative technologies but you also employ indigenous Australians as well. Fellow Aboriginal men and women. So tell us a bit about that.

RAYMOND PRATT: Yeah, we employ a fair few people and indigenous Australians, non-indigenous Australians – it’s all very much the same for us. However, we do have a strong focus on indigenous people. We don’t only go for indigenous employment but rather getting people into business and I believe it was Supply Nation who have done a study and found that indigenous business are 100 times more likely to employ indigenous people so we feel that if we concentrate on getting people into business they can then concentrate on employing more people.

PRIME MINISTER: Well that’s fantastic, that’s very exciting particularly with the job opportunities. Tell me what sort of opportunity do you think battery storage, just getting back to the electrical side, what opportunities does battery storage offer for remote communities?

RAYMOND PRATT: In the far out remote communities, we would like to try to get people off the grid completely and give them sustainable power.

PRIME MINISTER: Because at the moment, many of them would just be generating their electricity from diesel generators.

RAYMOND PRATT:: Yeah, there’s a lot communities running off strictly diesel and that’s quite a high cost whereas if we can get out there and put solar panels on the roof and back that up with storage then that will certainly offset that cost of the diesel for the people out there.

PRIME MINISTER: Ray, fantastic. It’s very exciting, you are a shining light of leadership there and you’re in a very exciting area so well done and good luck.

RAYMOND PRATT:: Thank you very much.

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