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Toshiba muscles into solar-energy business

Company creates unit dedicated to building large-scale power plants using solar-photovoltaic panels.

Toshiba, a company best known for making laptops and consumer electronics, on Monday said that it will enter the solar-photovoltaics business.

But don't expect to see Toshiba-branded solar panels on a home rooftop any time soon. The company's industrial and energy arm plans to build utility-scale solar power plants.

Toshiba's photovoltaics business will be part of the conglomerate's Transmission Distribution & Industrial Systems business, which makes equipment for natural-gas power plants.

The division also makes rechargeable batteries for industrial use and has a systems integration operation for installing power generation equipment.

The push into solar energy is part of Toshiba's corporate goal to lower its carbon emissions and environmental impact.

It expects it can grow the solar-photovoltaics business to $2.2 billion a year by fiscal year 2015.

Toshiba's competitors, including Sanyo and Sharp, already have large solar-photovoltaic businesses.