Toshiba opens doors to solar PV biz

Jan. 5, 2009 – Toshiba Corp. has established a “photovoltaic systems” division to supply large solar power generation systems, combining its systems integration know-how with existing work on high-efficiency power conditioning systems and rechargeable ion batteries.

The unit, structured within Toshiba’s transmission distribution & industrial systems company, will focus on large, megawatt-scale projects for utility and industrial plants, for which there is a projected solar PV demand seen nearly doubling to ~$24.4B in 2015 from ~$13.3B today, the company said in a statement. The company is gearing up to take about a tenth of that market for its own, targeting annual sales of about ¥200B (US $2.2B) by 2015, “utilizing existing global sales channels.”

Toshiba is initially hinging its PV plans partly on is its supercharge ion battery (SCiB) technology, released in Dec. 2007 targeting the industrial systems market, which the company says can recharge to 90% of full capacity in less than five minutes. The company also is counting on its experience in applying its system integration know-how to generation and distribution systems, microgrids connecting and managing small-scale power generation resources, and large plant system engineering capabilities.

Japan’s Nikkei daily reports that Toshiba will procure solar panels from as-yet unselected outside companies (foreign or domestic) and produce components in-house, such as inverters and transformers; it currently sells a few hundred million yen (single-digit US $M) worth of solar power-related equipment. The paper adds it’s an unusual move for a Japanese company that does not make its own panels to assemble and market solar power generation systems.


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