Panasonic Targets Clean Power for Homes After Fukushima Disaster

Panasonic Corp. is focusing on making products to manage renewable power in the home as the Fukushima nuclear disaster last year spurs generation from wind and solar.

Panasonic, which began selling lamp sockets in 1918 and now offers products from semiconductors to self-cleaning toilets, plans to raise the energy-management operations’ share of sales to 30 percent of its world revenue by 2018, said Laurent Abadie, Panasonic Europe Ltd. chief executive officer. Panasonic posted global sales of 8.7 trillion yen ($114 billion) last year.

“The future is about new ways to produce, store and manage energy, which will become a major issue in the coming years,” he said in an interview in London, adding Europe will also seek to raise its clean-energy solutions business to 30 percent of sales. “Today it’s only a few percent, so it’s major growth.”

The company has been spurred on by the nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Dai-Ichi plant last year that prompted Germany to abandon its atomic development plans, Abadie said. “On top of that, the price for oil is rising and the projection for the long term is that it will continue to rise,” he said.

Panasonic, which began accepting orders for batteries to store renewable energy in homes and workplaces from August in Japan, will need to contend with rivals such as Sony Corp., ABB Ltd. and Siemens AG. Companies are entering the market as energy generation from solar and wind varies depending on the weather, unlike production from nuclear or fossil fuel-fired plants.

Overseas Expansion

The company is taking orders in Japan for a 0.96 kilowatt-hour battery for its home solar generator and may expand abroad. Panasonic, also talking to European utilities on using its power management systems, hopes to sign deals in 2012, Abadie said. “Utilities themselves are looking to provide added value to the market place and we want to work in partnership with them.”

Panasonic sells solar panels and so-called air-source heat pumps in Europe, and operates a fuel-cell research center in Germany to extend technology used in Japan to the continent. The company plans to begin sales of a light-emitting diode lamp in Europe from April that matches the output of a traditional 40-watt incandescent device with only 7 watts of power use.

It will open the eco-house concept in Fujisawa, Japan, in 2013, with homes that produce, store and manage their own power.

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