Panasonic to invest $1 billion in green tech

Panasonic president reveals plan to shift core business, developing existing interests in green technologies and offering energy-saving solutions for the home, according to a Bloomberg interview.

The Panasonic TC-P50V10 plasma flat-panel HDTV. Panasonic

Panasonic plans to invest $1 billion by 2012 to develop green technologies for the home that would include energy-monitoring systems, marking a major shift in the company's focus.

Panasonic President Fumio Ohtsubo said in an interview with the Bloomberg news service this week that growing consumer interest in more efficient products has led Panasonic to decide to develop new core businesses.

"Our growth is not enough compared to Samsung. So we want to change our fighting ring from our current categories to a different field," Ohtsubo told Bloomberg.

The company plans to offer home energy management systems, as well as develop existing interests in lithium ion batteries for electric cars, solar panels, and smart appliances.

Of course, that doesn't necessarily mean that the world's leading plasma-TV manufacturer is getting rid of its star product.

As one of its green product ideas, Ohtsubo told Bloomberg about a system in development that would allow people to monitor the electricity generation of their solar panels and the electricity use of their home appliances through their television sets.

One can't help but wonder if Panasonic's interest in a new core business was in any way influenced by the U.S. Department of Energy's decision to curb Energy Star seals for supersized televisions . Very large televisions could fall out of favor if an increasingly energy-conscious public relies on the Energy Star seal when deciding which products to purchase for their home.

It also remains to be seen if this means Panasonic is going to abandon its plasma TVs in favor of the increasingly popular LCD and LED-based LCD televisions. Panasonic already does make LCD televisions, in addition to plasmas.

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About the author

In a software-driven world, it's easy to forget about the nuts and bolts. Whether it's cars, robots, personal gadgetry or industrial machines, Candace Lombardi examines the moving parts that keep our world rotating. A journalist who divides her time between the United States and the United Kingdom, Lombardi has written about technology for the sites of The New York Times, CNET, USA Today, MSN, ZDNet, Silicon.com, and GameSpot. She is a member of the CNET Blog Network and is not a current employee of CNET.

 

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