Business Leaders Lessons: with Mark Kelly, Kellenergy
In this series we’re meeting leading voices from organisations across Northern Ireland for their advice and insights into business success.
We recently caught up with AIB customer Mark Kelly, owner of Kellenergy, based in Dungannon. Mark reflects on the importance of sustainability for farming and businesses.
“Coming from a farming background I’ve always had a keen interest in the environment around me and how to protect and harness our natural resources. I went to Queen’s University Belfast and completed a Masters in mechanical engineering. Having gained this qualification, coupled with my interest in sustainability and farming, I knew there was more I could offer.”
1.) Embrace your passion
Over the years, we have been able to expand our dairy farming business in County Tyrone by incorporating an anaerobic digester into our operations; this is where the idea for Kellenergy came from. I like to think of us as ‘small but mighty’. There are two of us working in the business and everyday we’re doing our bit for the environment by helping recycle waste and produce green energy. There is nothing more rewarding than being able to embrace your passion and turn it into a business.
2.) Take that leap of faith!
In 2005, the Renewables Obligation scheme had just been introduced in Northern Ireland. This scheme was designed to encourage generation of electricity from eligible renewable sources. This was a great starting point to enter the renewable energy market, although it did take a certain leap of faith to trust in my own skills and knowledge to make the business work. Our robotic dairy system transfers all our farmyard waste such as slurry through our anaerobic digester to produce biogas, a form of renewable energy, which is then sold back onto the grid to help power and heat homes. Knowing that I am doing my bit for the environment, and helping power homes up and down the country, is something I am very proud of to this day.
3.) Do your homework
In the past decade we’ve seen great strides being taken by farms in Northern Ireland to be more sustainable. It’s more commonplace now for farming businesses to have solar panels, wind turbines or hydro systems to power their processes. Keeping ahead of the curve in an industry like this is vital, as technology and farming practices are constantly evolving.
As a business, we must be on the ball in terms of leading sustainable efforts.
If you are an up-and-coming business leader in this space my advice is to do your homework. It’s important to keep up to date on the latest policy developments, technology trends and research. From reading local news and attending events to networking and building relationships in your sector, you can ensure to prioritise sustainability practices in your business and services.
4.) Evaluate your inputs and outputs
For businesses who are looking to become more energy efficient themselves, my advice would be to evaluate your inputs and outputs and what you need to operate your business. In terms of your energy requirements, is there any way you can produce them? Bring your costs down? Acquire more sustainable sources?
It’s easier said than done, but it is worth sitting down to analyse the business as a whole and what makes it tick. Being able to produce more from less is really the crux of becoming more efficient.
In the future, we hope to expand Kellenergy further and become as sustainable as we possibly can. We are always investigating future opportunities in terms of technology or renewable energy sources. Looking into the likes of green gas production or working within hydrogen production as that’s becoming increasingly popular within the farming sector.
For more great insights from AIB customers, visit aibni.co.uk/blogs