ARENA-backed fund buys into solar storage developer

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Southern Cross, which invests money on behalf of ARENA, joins Siemens and Total in investing in solar-storage energy systems manager.

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Australian cleantech investor Southern Cross Venture Partners has led a major fund-raising for Sunverge Energy, a leading developer of battery storage and energy management systems that have been deployed in Australia and New Zealand, including the ground breaking solar-plus-storage leasing program from Vector.

Southern Cross is one of three  international investors that have injected$15 million in Series B financing round. The other two are the venture capital unit of German energy giant Siemens and, Total, the French oil giant that has a majority stake in solar company SunPower.

sunvergeThe investment is interesting because Sunverge is on the verge of rolling out its energy management systems, which combine solar, storage, and smart controls, in markets around the world.

Already, nearly 300 units are in operation at customer sites across the United States, Australia, New  Germany, South Korea, and in New Zealand, where it was deployed in Vector’s leasing program, a model that has attracted huge interest from other network operators. In Australia it has been deployed in a residential

The Sunverge SIS delivers benefits to multiple groups: homeowners and businesses receive more reliable power at a lower cost, utilities reduce grid management and energy delivery costs, electricity retailers increase revenue and customer retention by bringing value-added products and services to market, and society as a whole accelerates the adoption of solar, wind, and electric vehicles.

Sunverge CEO Ken Munson said the financing will provide capital to open new markets, and drive the development of our rapidly growing pipeline.

“This world-class partnership validates the arrival of distributed energy storage into the mainstream and the leading position that Sunverge has already established,” Munson said.

“We are excited about the value such partners can bring in the utility, residential, and commercial segments, and their support will be instrumental to us in achieving our ambitious growth objectives.”

Southern Cross Venture Partners manages $200 million invested equally by the Australian government owned Australian Renewable Energy Agency, and Chinese venture capital manager SBCVC.

CEO Mark Bonnar said the company had been seeking an investment opportunity in distributed energy storage.

“With resources in the United States, Australia and China we are looking forward to assisting the Sunverge team in achieving their global ambitions during a very exciting phase in this market,” Bonnar said in a statement.

He later told RenewEconomy: “I have been investing in batteries since 2006 – lead acid, lithium, flow battery – but this is not investment in battery technology – it is an integrated system, ready to roll out.

“This conversation has move beyond the question of technology, it is now about execution, and that’s what makes it really exciting.”

Total Ventures investment manager Christophe Tonion said storage is critical for the expansion of solar and energy services markets.

“But what will be truly disruptive is the power to aggregate all sorts of distributed energy resources, be they solar, storage, smart devices, or electric vehicles. This ‘virtual power plant’ capability is at the core of Sunverge’s technology and go-to-market strategy.”

Ralf Schnell, CEO of the Venture Capital Unit of Siemens, said Sunverge was one of the “very few” companies with similar products ready to scale globally.

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