40under40: In 2013 at the age of just 28, Joe Oliver co-founded what has become Delorean Corporation, an integrated group of companies advancing Australia’s emerging renewable bioenergy market.
Following a career as an engineer in the UK, Mr Oliver leveraged his experience with waste-to-energy technologies to carve a niche in bioenergy: energy made from biomass or biofuel.
“Australia is about 10 to 15 years behind, from a bioenergy perspective,” Mr Oliver told Business News.
“We’re catching up on solar and wind, but I think there’s a real emphasis on how we can help to make change and drive a more sustainable fuel source.”
Not long after establishing the business, and as the only paid employee at the time, Mr Oliver had his first win, leading construction of the Jandakot Bioenergy Facility.
The facility diverts commercial and industrial waste (food and organic waste) from landfill and converts it into grid power, while capturing and reusing nutrients for soil improvement.
Commissioned in 2015, the Jandakot facility helped act as a showcase for the delivery of economically successful, commercial-scale bioenergy plants in Australia, diverting more than 100,000 tonnes of waste from landfill so far.
Other projects the company has completed include a facility in New Zealand, which uses food organics form the Auckland City Council collections and supplies the energy generated to a major greenhouse operation.
“It’s something that attracted me both from a commercial perspective and a sustainable perspective; doing the right thing by diversion of waste from landfill to produce energy, and recirculating those nutrients back into soils,” Mr Oliver said.
“In Australia, that’s where we need it the most; we’ve got lots of barren land and a nutrient source that’s being put into landfill that we could divert and generate energy from.”
Being a first mover in an emerging sector came with challenges, including navigating inconsistent state and federal policy settings, coupled with complexities around project development, with project delays affecting cash flow.
Despite those obstacles, Delorean Corporation has grown to comprise several entities, based off its renewable energy foundations: Biogass Renew- ables, which targets anaerobic digestion plant construction and operation; bioenergy infrastructure and asset development arm, Delorean Energy; stainless steel tank and pipework fabrication business TekPro; and CleanTech Energy, which is now the state’s fourth-largest independent electricity retail- er, with licences for the National Energy Market enabling expansion into the eastern states.
For the financial year ending June 30 2020, Delorean posted more than $30 million in revenue.
Mr Oliver is now focusing on the final stages of an initial public offering.
RM Corporate Finance has been appointed as the lead broker, under- pinned by Morgans Financial Services.
The prospectus lists four key projects, two of which are shovel-ready (subject to financial investment) with planning approvals already in place.
That includes a facility in South Australia, which Mr Oliver said would be- come one of Australia’s first commercial anaerobic digestion facilities, and a project in Victoria that plans to convert organic and agricultural waste for energy production onsite.
Joe Oliver was a 2021 40under40 First Amongst Equals finalist and winner of the City of Perth Strategic Alliance Award.