Australia's national science agency would like to put renewable energy in a box.

CSIRO, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation, announced Monday it is taking steps to commercialize what it says will be the first battery to successfully store energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar.

The agency said it invested an undisclosed amount in Smart Storage, a startup that will commercialize the battery technology that CSIRO developed and already is testing in hybrid cars.

Several weeks ago, Melbourne-based Cleantech Ventures, also said it was investing a "significant" undisclosed sum in Smart Storage.

The technology combines a supercapacitor with a lead-acid battery to produce batteries that investors say are quicker to charge and last longer than conventional lead-acid batteries.

With further development, Smart Storage expects to be able to manufacture its batteries in existing lead-acid battery plants at only a "marginal" additional cost, said Jan Dekker, an investment principal at Cleantech Ventures, in a statement.

"Too often new technologies simply aren't price-competitive and that significantly retards market uptake," he said.

The news follows a recent burst of interest in funding for commercializing new battery technology, provoking renewed hope that electric cars and plug-in hybrids might become cost-effective and logistically feasible.

In October, for example, the Israeli startup Project Better Place scored a hefty $200 million for a scheme that envisions leasing batteries and building battery recharge stations around the globe. And earlier that month, the Watertown, Mass-based A123 Systems grabbed $30 million to increase production of lithium-ion batteries for hybrid and electric cars in a fourth round of funding.