May 21, 2010
| by Steven Castle
There’s a lot of talk of the development of lithium-ion batteries for use in electric cars, but big batteries for home energy storage?
Panasonic says why not, and plans to offer a 9-kilowatt-hour (kwh) unit to store energy produced by a photovoltaic solar system, for instance, sometime in 2011. The 9-kwh device will consist of six 1.5-kwh modules, or can be configured in size to a home’s energy use.
A Panasonic spokesperson at the recent EE (Energy Efficiency) Global Forum in Washington, D.C., said the goal is to sell the 9-kwh unit for $3,000, though it would not be that price at first.
Panasonic may bundle its energy storage device with a home energy monitoring and management system (HEMS) that allows users to view how much power they are using and how much it is costing them, right on their televisions.
HEMS is being marketed in Japan and is in about 140,000 homes in Denmark.
Home energy storage batteries, particularly for solar systems, can be a very big market and can make the investment in solar panels that much easier to take, considering one can use the power stored in the batteries at any time. Last year Panasonic won the contract to produce batteries for Tesla Motors’ electric-powered vehicles.
In addition, the company says it has sold about 3,000 of its 1,000-watt residential fuel cells that covert natural gas to electricity and also heat water. The goal is to sell these fuel cells for $6,000, which may compete with Bloom Energy’s plans to sell natural gas-powered fuel cells to power homes.
Watch out for Panasonic in the energy storage space. The company completed a buyout of solar manufacturer Sanyo last year, grabbed the coveted Tesla Motors electric car battery account, and aims to be the number one green innovation company in electronics by its 100th anniversary in 2018.
Steven Castle is Electronic House's managing editor. he has been writing about consumer electronics, homes and energy efficiency topics for two decades. He is also the co-founder of GreenTech Advocates