Aussie investors Southern Cross Ventures back US solar-plus-storage startup

A leading US developer of battery storage and energy management systems has gained backing from Australian cleantech investment fund Southern Cross Venture Partners.

Southern Cross led a $15 million fundraising round in Sunverge Energy, a California-based start-up that is working to roll out energy management systems combining solar, storage, and smart controls, in markets around the world.

In New Zealand, Sunverge has partnered with Vector, an Auckland-based provider of both energy and telecommunications services that offers a no-money-down solar-plus-storage deals to its customers.

Southern Cross – a $200 million investment vehicle backed equally by ARENA and Chinese venture capital manager SBCVC – was one of three international investors to take part in the Series B financing round, alongside venture capital unit of German energy giant Siemens and, Total, the French oil giant that has a majority stake in solar company SunPower.

Already, nearly 300 of Sunverge’s energy management units are in operation at customer sites across the US, Australia, 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. Sunverge CEO Ken Munson said the funds would provide capital to open new markets, and drive the development of the company’s 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 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,” Bonna said in a statement.

He later said: “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 moved beyond the question of technology, it is now about execution, and that’s what makes it really exciting.”

© 2014 Solar Choice Pty Ltd

Giles Parkinson