DEWA launches Free Electrons to support next generation of international clean energy entrepreneurs

DEWA launches Free Electrons to support next generation of international clean energy entrepreneurs

HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), has launched the Free Electrons programme, a global energy accelerators programme that provides an integrated framework to promote international cooperation and support innovation, to identify solutions to meet future global energy needs. The announcement was made at the Armani hotel in Dubai.


Representatives from the programme’s member organisations were also present. The programme sets the framework for the cooperation between 8 leading global utilities and 25 of the largest clean energy accelerators in the world. This supports DEWA’s commitment to transform Dubai into an international pioneering hub for identifying and shaping future trends, enhancing the UAE’s global contribution to innovation in clean energy. The event was attended by Executive Vice Presidents, Vice Presidents and senior staff from DEWA.

Free Electrons, which has a budget of USD 1 million, is significant as it has a unique framework to support the next generation of energy entrepreneurs. The programme provides 12 international start-ups with the opportunity to explore and develop innovative solutions in energy through accelerators. The programme also connects the world’s most prominent energy start-ups with leading international utilities, in cooperation with three of the largest accelerators from San Francisco, USA. This allows the start-ups to cooperate with the largest clean energy business accelerators in the world, benefitting from best practices of the USA, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The Free Electrons programme was launched based on a framework that outlines cooperation amongst an international coalition of leading organisations. These include DEWA from the UAE, AusNet from Australia, ESB from Ireland, EDP from Portugal, innogy from the European Union, Origin from Australia, Singapore Power, and TEPCO from Japan.

Free Electrons will be moderated by New Energy and Nexus, and funded by the California Clean Energy Fund, and Swissnex from San Francisco, in cooperation with three of the most prominent accelerators from San Francisco. These include Energy Excelerator, Powerhouse, and Beta-i. The programme is scheduled to run over nine months, and will include three intensive workshops in four separate countries, that each run for over a week. Workshops will take place in Silicon Valley in the USA, Europe, Asia, and Australia. The programme focuses on fundamentals such as tools and methods for innovation, funding strategies, business growth, leadership, and organisational development.

“I am pleased to welcome you all to the launch of the Free Electrons programme in the UAE, which supports the directives of our wise leadership, who have made it a strategic priority to predict the future. The UAE is making progress to become a global leader in the development of a sustainable future. This is inspired by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who once observed that, “As a nation, we have always been forward-looking and planning for the future, which has been a key driver of our success,”” said Al Tayer.


“I would like to welcome today all the representatives from the international organisations taking part in this promising programme. The global energy accelerators programme is prominent because it connects the world’s most promising energy start-ups with leading utilities around the world. It represents the positive cooperation between leading international organisations in energy, in partnership with three leading accelerators from San Francisco, USA. Through this programme, we are also cooperating with some of the largest networks, and some of the most important accelerators in the international clean energy sector, who are working together to create a single platform to empower 12 start-ups from around the world to explore the future of energy, based on innovation and technology, benefiting from the best practices and expertise of the USA, Europe, Asia, and Australia. Free Electrons is an opportunity to exchange information and knowledge, and expand into new international markets. The organisations involved have combined total revenues that exceed USD148 billion, and are considered leading institutions that provide services to over 73 million customers around the world,” added Al Tayer.

“His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum ratified the Dubai Future Agenda, and launched the Dubai Future Foundation to shape the future of strategic sectors in the UAE, and Dubai in particular. This will develop an economy that is ready to achieve the future. We are establishing the largest government accelerators programme in the world based on a clear framework based on innovation, Research and Development (R&D). This is being done with incubators to identify solutions, and develop renewable energy technologies. We are always working to keep up with the latest international practices, to place the UAE and Dubai at the forefront, and to ensure a brighter future, for generations to come.”

“Launching the Free Electrons programme contributes to the UAE’s efforts to enhance its position as an effective player in making the future. Its importance lies mainly in being an integrated framework for establishing partnerships and innovating effective solutions with a global impact to combat current challenges and keep pace with new developments. This will enable us to predict new opportunities, promote innovation in renewable and clean energy, and pave the way for further future pioneering achievements,” added Al Tayer.

“DEWA adopts a clear and integrated strategy based on innovation and predicting the future. We are committed to enhancing R&D to keep pace with rapid technological advancements through accelerators and incubators that innovate technological models and solutions, and develop renewable energy technologies. We also benefit from international best practices and experiences in electricity and water research and development. We do this by utilising disruptive technologies to keep pace with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. We are currently working to complete the R&D centre at the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, with a total investment of AED 500 million, between now and 2020. The centre will focus its work on four key operational areas including the production of electricity from solar energy, the integration of smart grids, energy efficiency, and water. Our efforts in research and development and our adoption of an excellence model, are based on innovative criteria, as well as a proactive approach. This has helped us to rank highly on international competitiveness indices. These are evident in our international achievements in the reliability, availability, and efficiency of electricity and water production, transmission and distribution.”

“DEWA’s results are among the best internationally for customer minutes lost per year. DEWA achieved 3.87 minutes compared to 15 minutes recorded by leading utilities in the European Union. DEWA has also reduced losses in power transmission and distribution networks to 3.3%, compared to 6-7% in Europe and the USA. Water network losses decreased to 8.2%, compared to 15% in North America.”

“I would like to thank all those involved in turning Free Electrons into reality, as an ambitious project that will benefit the international energy sector. Together, we’ll start a new phase of innovation and excellence by investing in the future of clean energy,” added Al Tayer.

During the launch, Peter Terium, CEO of innogy, delivered the keynote speech on the latest trends in the energy sector. Danny Kennedy, Managing Director of the California Clean Energy Fund, talked about energy breakthroughs. Tony Seba, Lecturer on Entrepreneurship, Disruption, and Clean Energy at Stanford University, talked about Clean Disruption in Energy and Transportation, while Dr Otto Scharmer, Senior Lecturer at MIT and the Presencing Institute, moderated a workshop on Transformational Leadership for Disruptive Times. Dr Jeremy Leggett, founder and chairman of SolarCentury and SolarAid, talked about creating a sustainable and economic energy business.