Leesa Blazley: Energy Systems

Leesa Blazley became a start-up co-founder after studying a Master of Energy Systems at the University of Melbourne.

Just over one year out of her Master of Energy Systems and Leesa Blazley has already made a name for herself in Australia’s clean energy sector.

"I was super excited about joining this particular Masters. I really threw myself into it and enjoyed everything, from the people to the lecturers to the quality of teaching.

The Master of Energy Systems spans a broad range of topics related to the energy industry, covering finance, economics, and energy analysis. Through the course I’ve developed a greater understanding of different technologies used to generate, store and transmit energy; how energy systems operate; and potential solutions we can implement for a more sustainable future.

I had some great networking opportunities during my studies and was able to secure a part-time student placement at the Australian Energy Market Operator, where I completed my capstone project. This led to a full-time role in their Operations Department."

Sitting in a guest lecture Leesa had a bright idea that would change the course of her career. She wondered what if solar film technology could be integrated directly into building materials?

Inspired by the idea, Ms Blazley found an enthusiastic supporter in her own father, Wade Blazley, and within 18 months, the father–daughter duo had founded a new startup, Solafast. The start-up has received commonwealth support and is now working with the CSIRO and local printing company, Norwood. Solafast is a roll-formed steel cladding that incorporates a flexible solar film onto its surface. The manufacturing method for printed solar films also lends itself to being produced locally.

"As part of the course, we would hear from guest lecturers about current energy technologies and trends. One guest lecturer, Dr David Jones, spoke to us about flexible organic solar films that were being developed. I immediately started thinking about how this technology could be combined with building products, and spoke with my father who works in structural steel cladding. Dr Jones was able to connect me with CSIRO, which was leading the research effort, and it became clear that we could help each other develop a breakthrough building integrated photovoltaic product.

Our objective is to increase the penetration of renewable solar energy in industrial and commercial new-builds. By integrating solar photovoltaics with a building product, you eliminate the double up of labour that occurs when a roof and solar panels are installed separately, cutting costs. The manufacturing method for printed solar films also lends itself to being produced locally. We would love to be able to sell an advanced solar product manufactured in Australia."

Learn more about the Master of Energy Systems.

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