Panasonic to Form Solar JV, Buy Power From Homes

2014/01/23 14:06
Kenji Kaneko, Nikkei BP CleanTech Institute

Panasonic Corp announced Jan 21, 2014, that it will conclude a shareholders agreement with Epco Co Ltd and form a joint venture related to "household solar power aggregation business" through joint investment on January 31.

Considering the full liberalization of the retail electricity market scheduled in 2016 as an opportunity to launch a new energy-related service, Panasonic will provide energy-related solutions for houses through the joint venture (JV). Specifically, as a business that can be realized before the liberalization, they will start with a new business called "aggregation business," which purchases small amounts of solar electricity from houses, aggregates them and sells a large amount of electricity.

On the side of Panasonic, its Eco Solutions company will run the business.

The JV, Panasonic Epco Energy Service (Minato Ward, Tokyo), will deal with specified-scale electricity business, wholesale electricity business, retail electricity business, application service business, etc. It plans to nofity Japan's Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) of the launch of the specified-scale electricity business. The amount of investment is ¥300 million (approx US$2.87 million), of which 51% is financed by Panasonic and 49% by Epco.

The JV aims to have 500,000 or more contracts (the number of houses equipped with a solar power generation system) in fiscal 2018. Panasonic considers the JV's businesses as one of its projects for "the discontinuous growth for ¥2 trillion sales from house-related business in 2018."

The JV will perform energy management including the prediction of the amount of power generated and purchase electricity from each house equipped with a solar power system based on the FIT (feed-in tariff) policy. Also, it will buy and sell electricity in cooperation with other companies including housing manufacturers by utilizing the past results of the Panasonic group's procurement department, which functions as a PPS (power producer and supplier).

Furthermore, the JV plans to offer various application services including power-saving services for houses. In terms of business plan, it intends to establish business operating systems in the Kanto and Kansai areas of Japan through operation tests and start to launch full-scale services in each area in the summer of 2014.

Panasonic has technologies and products that comprehensively reduce power consumption at home such as residential solar power generation systems and residential distribution boards equipped with a HEMS (home energy management system).

On the other hand, Epco deals with about 140,000 designs of residential facilities and solar power generation-related facilities per year. Its call center handles about one million customers (houses). And it is developing HEMS applications that can be linked to housing manufacturers, residential systems for buying and selling electricity and systems for processing a large amount of data on electricity.