Australia’s AGL invests US$20m in battery storage tech


AGL Energy is one of Australia’s largest integrated energy companies and has been investing in several businesses to broaden its appeal to the emerging home energy market.

AGL’s backing of Sunverge, says RenewEconomy, was announced at the company’s interim earnings presentation. The Australian energy provider also seeks to create a renewable energy investment fund aimed at building 1,000MW of new large-scale renewable energy capacity.

The US$20 million (A$28 million) Sunverge investment follows the purchase of a stake in Australian start-up Solar Analytics. The move coincided with the launch of a ‘solar’ component of AGL’s smart App, as it builds a customer base in the home energy market space to stay ahead of telcos such as Telstra from which competition is also emerging.

AGL investing in ‘new energy’

AGL’s managing director and CEO Andrew Vesey said that it invested in Sunverge as the company views it as an “emerging leader” in demand response management for “premises-based energy storage”. Vesey described the deal as an ‘early mover advantage’ for AGL.

Apart from solar, storage and electric vehicles which is a major development area for AGL, the chief executive is also “attracted to the idea of a ‘virtual power plant’, where AGL could tap into the battery storage systems of – say – one million customers,” adds RenewEconomy.

The battery storage solutions provider is said to be involved in battery storage trial in more than 30 home in three Queensland towns with Ergon Energy.

Vesey has also said that AGL has been selling a small number of batteries to it clients for household use, and is rapidly increasing sales of rooftop solar to consumers.

In Australia, sales of rooftop solar panels to households was up 2.5 fold from a year ago. AGL claims that it is now among the top three retailers of solar PV in the last quarter of 2015.

Vesey suggested that battery storage was the “big game changer” in home energy systems, with the likelihood of price reductions in the future.

Vesey said: “The future 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.”