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In the heart of Australia’s renewable energy revolution, a powerful idea is taking shape. 

It’s an idea rooted in the Wiradjuri word ngunggilanha, meaning to share or exchange, and it’s driving a groundbreaking initiative called Yurruga, which means ‘sun’ in the same indigenous language. 

Megan Jones and Joe Williams, two of the co-founders of Yurruga, will be speaking at All-Energy Australia 2023 in the First Nations Energy stream, sharing Yurruga’s plan for a brighter and more inclusive future for First Nations people in the emerging renewable energy sector.

Yurruga’s mission is clear: to advance the role of First Nations people in Australia’s shift towards renewable energy. The key to their approach lies in embracing the ‘ngunggilanha’ principle. 

“Yurruga provides a new market entry point and model for economic participation of First Nations people in renewable energy that has not yet been explored – the solar energy circular economy,” Ms Jones explained.

“The ngunggilanha principle is about sharing the benefits of the energy transition by developing knowledge and providing unique long-term jobs and training opportunities in rapidly growing technology and innovation sectors such as advanced recycling, electrical services, resource management and manufacturing.”

The circular economy concept, as applied to solar energy, offers a multitude of opportunities for both business development and community growth. Ms Jones recognises the ambiguity surrounding the benefits First Nations people have received from the solar boom of the last decade. 

Yurruga aims to change that by turning these benefits into tangible business and career outcomes that reflect the diverse interests of indigenous people and youth. For fellow Yurruga co-founders Joe, Alex Frail and Nathan Henkes, providing education and employment pathways other than the often promoted, but extremely limited scope of sporting careers, is a key outcome for the business. Yurruga seeks to bridge the gap between new energy and indigenous communities by sharing the prosperity it generates in the communities most impacted by renewable energy projects. 

Yurruga is not merely a concept but a plan with specific goals and timelines.

“Yurruga will be the first, custom-built, commercial-scale solar energy circular economy facility in Australia owned and operated by an indigenous corporation,” Ms Jones explained.

“We have a multi-stage establishment and growth plan and aim to have our first stage services operational before the end of this year.”

However, as with any pioneering venture, challenges persist. The diversity and evolving nature of advanced recycling technology means that selecting the most suitable technologies requires significant research and focus.

For Ms Jones and Yurruga, participating in All-Energy Australia 2023 is more than just an event. 

“Introducing Yurruga to delegates at All-Energy is an exciting opportunity to catalyse an expanded vision for First Nations participation in renewable energy,” Ms Jones stated.

“We see there is immense scope to enable self-determination for indigenous youth in new career pathways and create opportunities in our community. Indigenous businesses are starting to deliver new solar energy projects across the country which is fantastic. Yurruga will provide an important range of circular economy services to support these projects and the solar energy sector broadly. It’s exciting to see indigenous business growing into this space.”

Yurruga’s presence at All-Energy Australia 2023 serves as an invitation for others to join them on this transformative journey. They aim to forge connections, inspire like-minded individuals, and foster collaboration to ensure that benefits of the shift to renewables are shared equitably.

“We plan to build connections, identify business opportunities and inspire others to join us on this journey at All-Energy.”

Ms Jones will appear alongside fellow Yurruga co-founder Mr Williams at All-Energy Australia on Day Two in Room 210, Thursday, 26 October starting at 2:50pm.

This sponsored editorial is brought to you by All-Energy Australia. For more details on the conference, agenda, exhibitors and how to register for the free-to-attend event visit the website at all-energy.com.au.

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