1989. Peter and Lee Bulanyi and their young family are living on a property near Dorrigo, in the NSW Northern Tablelands. With the nearest power pole kilometres away, their electricity is supplied by a diesel generator. Fed up with the generator’s noise and fumes and having to refuel it at the most inopportune times, Peter starts looking for a new source of electricity.
In his electronics repair service in town, Peter makes over a basic solar power system. The word spreads and a new business is born. Peter starts supplying inverters and solar panels and then designing, supplying and installing complete off-grid systems.
By mid 1990sPeter’s business, “Solar Inverter Services”, is receiving a stream of work from all parts of the country. Over the next decade Peter repairs thousands of off-grid inverters and offers high-level technical support to system owners in Australia and the Asia-Pacific.
In the late 1990s a revolutionary solar power system appears. Without a battery, the system connects solar panels to the grid via an inverter. The sun hits the panels, power flows into the house via the inverter and any excess power goes back into the grid.
The system is a novelty and the bulk of Peter’s work continues to come from off-grid customers. In 2003 the Bulanyis move to the coast where Peter notices his clients’ concern with climate change. The grid-connect system rises in popularity as the public embraces solar power as a means to reducing their carbon footprint.
It is 2005. The business is growing. To the installation and servicing, the Bulanyis add importing and wholesale distribution of renewableenergy products, in particular, grid-connect inverters. Large quantities of imported stock are purchased, the business is incorporated and the name revised to “Solar Inverters Pty Ltd”.
The timing should have been right. Yet, the market is small and reluctant to try the latest transformerless inverter technology. Rejection becomes commonplace.
Enter Lee. Focus: marketing. With Peter’s technical expertise and Lee’s ingenious advertising, the business gains ground. By the end of 2010, through hard work and persistence, the company supplies the Australian market with over 60MW of grid-connect inverters alone.
In as little as five years, the company has become a multi-million dollar success, having employed over 50 people across the country. In 2011, as a reflection of its growing capability, the business changes its name to “Si Clean Energy”.