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What role will start-ups play in energy future?

25 MAY 2017

For anyone still wondering whether the energy revolution is real, a trip to Silicon Valley earlier this month would have put that thought to rest.

The tech hub was abuzz with the first of the three modules in the Free Electrons Accelerator Program. Twelve innovative energy start-ups joined eight leading global utilities and the program accelerators to begin a journey to jump-start their company’s future.

Hosted this 30 April to 6 May, the module immersed the utilities and start-ups in the world’s leading clean tech innovation environments, connecting them to the epicentre of technology innovation and investors.

Mark Judd, Manager Community Energy, and Dominic Toffolon, Energy Solutions Engineer represented AusNet Services in San Francisco.

Mark said the Free Electrons’ first module offered an invaluable opportunity to collaborate and exchange knowledge between the start-ups and global utilities, with the insights to help shape and inform AusNet Services’ future role in the renewable energy future.

“These forums are vital to the advancement of energy across the globe,” Mark said.

“Our involvement in this global collective and open innovation environment will assist AusNet Services Commercial Energy Services team to better navigate the rapid change facing our industry from a network operations and commercial product and services perspective.”


Free Electrons

The module finished with the 12 start-ups pitching impressive presentations that offered high calibre innovations and pilot programs such as:

  • DepSys (Switzerland) unveiled a real-time control platform for the management of low-voltage networks to effectively master the impact of distributed generation and to limit its disruptive effects.
  • Driivz (Israel) has developed a world class intelligent software engine to support EV charging.
  • OhmConnect (USA) has developed a residential demand management solution with a very clever customer engagement model involving gamification.

Other Module One highlights included:

  •  A panel discussion featuring the eight partner utilities with a focus on the future of global renewable energy with areas of intense discussion centred on: blockchain technology, monetisation of data, future business models for grid-less utilities and methods of introducing new products and services.
  • A group visit to Stanford University Linear Accelerator Facility (SLAC), which is celebrated for its fundamental particle research and interestingly its leading energy research program. The visit provided insight into the future of network data acquisition and integrated LV network modelling in the greater context of Distributed Service Operations (DSO).

What’s next for Module Two?

Dhammika Adihetty and Guilherme Benevides will continue AusNet Services’ global energy renewable journey where they will attend the next Free Electrons’ module in Lisbon, Portugal, from the 25 June and finish with a pitch event in Dublin on the 29th June, exposing the start-ups to Europe’s growing utility market.