ARENA fund invests $6.3m in California battery storage start-up

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California battery storage start-up with strong links to China and big plans for Australia secures money from ARENA venture fund and international heavyweights.

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The venture capital fund managed by the Australian Renewable Energy Agency has invested $6.3 million in a US-based battery storage start-up with big plans for the battery storage market in Australia.

Southern Cross Ventures was one of a number of high profile investment funds – including Kleiner Perkins, the biggest invetor in clean-tech and the investment arm of Samsung – to invest in California-based SinoEV, also known as Octillion Power Systems in Australia.


SinoEV started off a a power-train specialist for electric vehicles, but is expanding into EV batteries and now stationary storage. Its manufacturing base is in China, where it supplies batteries to that country’s second biggest EV manufacturer, JAC Motors, and its battery management system and software technology is also being used in ground-breaking peak-shaving battery storage installations from Stem in California.

ARENA CEO Ivor Frischknecht said the investment would help Octillion – based in Brisbane and headed by Steven McCrae – to develop advanced lithium-ion battery storage solutions for the Australian and south-east Asia markets.

“Reliable, cost-effective energy storage will allow more renewable energy to enter Australia’s electricity markets,” Frischknecht said in a statement.

SinoEV has developed a “honeycomb” battery storage solution that can be installed in different size and space configurations, and Octillion will work with research institutions to further develop the technology for Australia and South East Asia’s needs. T

“The investment joins a range of ARENA supported projects aimed at increasing industry knowledge and reducing costs and barriers to developing and deploying battery technologies in Australia,” Frischknecht said.

McRae said the investment would allow Octillion to deliver a tailored product across multiple applications using SinoEV’s advanced battery technology as a core building block.

“Octillion will combine a cost competitive supply chain with world-class research and development to deliver products relevant to the Australian market and broader international markets,” McRae said.

McRae says Octillion Australia will have two responsibilities – developing sales and business development in Australia, the Pacific and south-east Asia, and creating a centre of excellence for engineering work on battery storage.

He sees potential in residential and off-grid market in Australia, and particularly in the EV market in south-east Asia. He says that the Octillion technology will be competitive with Tesla products. “The price points they have put out there are achievable,” he told RenewEconomy.

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