Panasonic aims to be Japan No. 1 in solar business

Panasonic Corp. is banking on the solar-panel business that it gained by acquiring domestic rival Sanyo, aiming for top market share of at least 35 percent in Japan by 2012.

New solar generation products, being offered in Japan starting next month, combine Sanyo Electric Co.’s solar technology with Panasonic’s sales networks in appliances and housing, said Panasonic Executive Vice President Toshihiro Sakamoto.

Panasonic will be able to provide overall energy-saving systems for homes that will include rechargeable batteries, heating and air conditioning, security systems and Net-linking gadgets besides solar panels, which will all be hooked up to each other, he said.

Homes will be able to save on utility costs by selling surplus power from solar power generation systems, and using water heaters at night when utility rates are cheaper, he said.

“You will be living with virtually zero carbon-dioxide emissions through creating, saving, storing and managing energy,” Sakamoto said in Tokyo.

Panasonic took over Sanyo in December and gained its solar-panel business as well as other businesses such as home appliances and batteries.

Although overlap in consumer electronics in the two companies is being eliminated, Panasonic has much to gain from Sanyo’s technological prowess in solar panels and lithium-ion batteries, which are expected to be in stronger demand as the popularity of green vehicles grows.

The Osaka-based maker of Viera plasma panel TVs, has made being environmentally-friendly a major theme in its growth strategy, hoping to become “the No. 1 green innovation company in the electronics industry” by 2018.

Associated Press