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Increased energy storage capabilities

One of the barriers to increased renewable power generation has been the limited availability of energy storage options.

Energy storage is an important and attractive option for electricity suppliers as it means energy can be stored for use during peak times, or when certain renewable energy sources aren't available.

Examples of this include solar panels not being able to generate energy through the night, or periods of low wind at a turbine farm. 

However, this problem may soon become a distant memory as the federal minister for resources and energy Gary Gray has announced a new development in renewable energy storage investment.

This development may eventually have a flow-on effect on electricity prices as capacity to store energy increases.

The Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund has invested in a Queensland company, Hydrexia. This fund is part of government's $100 million Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund Program which aims to support renewable energy initiatives throughout the nation.

In this case, the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund will provide $4.5 million to a $9.25 million investment in hydrogen storage technology.

"Southern Cross Venture Partners, through the Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund, provide investment capital and active management to help leading Australian renewable energy companies commercialise new technologies," Minister Gray said.

"Hydrexia will use the investment to commercialise its hydrogen storage technology in existing industrial gas markets, which will provide a commercialisation pathway for emerging applications such as hydrogen refuelling and renewable energy storage," he said.

One of the advantages of Hydrexia's technology is that it can store more hydrogen in less space than other storage technology.

It also operates at a lower pressure, causing a decrease in costs and therefore making it a more attractive option for existing hydrogen markets as well as renewable energy generation.

The Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund was announced in May 2011, and the fund formally commenced on January 1 2012.

It is a 13 year venture capital fund established under the $100 million Renewable Energy Venture Capital Fund Program.

This $100 million was matched dollar for dollar by Softbank China Venture Capital, amounting to a $200 million renewable energy fund.

It aims to increase the number of Australian renewable energy and technology companies performing successfully on a national and international scale, as well as fostering management capabilities within the industry and leveraging additional investment in Australian renewable energy.

The Southern Cross Renewable Energy Fund has previously supported the commercialisation of high-performance anti-reflective coatings for solar panels - a technology which increases the panels' efficiency.

Posted by Charlie Moore