Free Electrons: A Global Alliance Of Energy Utilities

May 6, 2019


One of the characteristics that make Free Electrons a huge opportunity for startups is that it is truly global: the startups joining the program will get a chance to work with 10 global utilities, with experience and big markets under their belt.

Let’s get to know two of the utilities that are part of the Free Electrons utility alliance.


CLP was founded in Hong Kong in 1901, which makes it a centenary company. They provide the electricity supply to 80% of Hong Kong’s population and invest in the energy sector in mainland China, India, Southeast Asia, Taiwan and Australia. Their business includes power generation, transmission and distribution, and electricity and gas retail activities.

We spoke with Austin Bryan, Senior Director of Innovation & Ventures at CLP, who spoke about the exciting experience the last edition of Free Electrons was. Both from the incredible feature of getting 10 global utilities working together and all of them working with 15 world-class startups in a truly collaborative environment.

I think the key thing is we did work with them, we collaborated. We didn’t treat them as suppliers, they didn’t treat us as customers. We came together to figure out what exactly it is that needs to be solved and how we do that.

Startups and utilities are very different in their make-up – startups come in with aspirations to ask questions and solve a problem, and the utilities come in with deep industry knowledge. This combination, and the bringing of these capabilities together to work on a viable product that can grow, thrive and actually solve a problem, is some of the most inspirational work they have done, according to Bryan.

Watch the full interview below:

DEWA – Dubai Electricity  and Water Authority

DEWA is the solo electricity and water provider for the city of Dubai, doing everything from generation, distribution and transmission for the residents. They are committed to promoting Dubai’s vision through the delivery of sustainable electricity and water services at a world-class level of reliability, efficiency and safety.

We spoke with Shaima Alawadhi, Senior Manager of Global Partnerships at DEWA who explained that DEWA still has 4 pilot projects running that came out the last edition of Free Electrons. It’s a peculiar situation – as one of the pilots is integration in their highly secure technology that allows the other 3 pilots to run.

Because we are part of the government, we have to ensure that security is at its highest level.

The new branch of DEWA, called Digital DEWA, is focused on creating new revenue streams for the company, so looking forward in Free Electrons, they are looking for technologies (like A.I.) to leverage the assets the company already has – like data – to support new services they can provide to their customers.

See the whole interview here:

The first module of Free Electrons is almost here – it will happen on the 21st – 24th of May in Columbus, Ohio, home of AEP. The objective of this first module will be to match solutions with concrete challenges and define a collaborative roadmap for the first pilot among startups and utilities.