AGL has joined the Australian Renewable Energy Agency, SBCVC, Siemens Venture Capital and Total Energy Ventures International in a round of financing to help San Francisco-based storage and distributed energy company Sunverge’s Australian expansion.

The US$20 million (AU$28 million) stake AGL has taken will see it become an “exclusive channel partner” for the sale of Sunverge’s energy storage systems across Australia. The technology allows utilities to automatically execute demand response programs at the customer level or link systems into “virtual power plants” to meet peak energy demand across entire communities.

AGL managing director and chief executive Andy Vesey said the company aimed to be at the forefront of significant change in the energy sector.

“Our partnership will allow us to better meet the needs of our customers in a carbon-constrained energy future, which is increasingly based on decentralised products and services including digital metering, solar PV systems, as well as new technologies such as batteries, electric vehicles and other ‘beyond the meter’ energy solutions,” he said.

ARENA chief executive Ivor Frischknecht said the new round of financing was a clear signal of confidence in Sunverge’s smart storage systems for the Australian market.

“This new investment will build on more than USD $7 million (AU$9.8 million) that ARENA and SBCVC have already invested through the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund to help Sunverge establish operations in Australia and overcome barriers to the widespread deployment of storage systems.”

He said the funding would allow Sunverge to employ more Australian staff and look at local manufacture of its systems.

“The partnership between AGL and Sunverge will accelerate the roll out of a state-of-the art grid integrated battery storage solution to Australia’s large household storage market.

“As storage becomes more commonplace in Australian homes, we expect to see energy retailers firm up business models for selling new products and work through some of the regulatory constraints facing Australia’s emerging storage market.

“Solving these challenges will ultimately allow consumers to get more value from their rooftop solar systems and increase the supply of renewable solar power in our electricity networks, contributing to grid stability and reducing peak load stress.”

Having ARENA on the chopping block didn’t stop recently awarded Best Minister in the World, Greg Hunt, from taking credit.

“The Australian Government’s investment in battery storage reflects the important part small-scale community and household solar plays in Australia’s renewable energy mix,” a release from Mr Hunt’s office said.