The U.S. government has been the saving grace for green technology, injecting much-needed cash into startups and established companies to expand their services. Now Panasonic is giving the government a run for its money with an announcement that it plans to invest $1 billion in a "green home" plan by 2012. The investment will shift Panasonic from its current focus on energy-sucking plasma TVs to solar power and other energy-efficient technology.
The move isn't that much of a surprise—Panasonic's main competitor, Samsung, has recently launched an aggressive green technology campaign. Among Panasonic's upcoming energy-saving products: solar panels and technology to allow consumers to monitor power use and display data on TV sets. The company also hopes to buy rechargeable battery maker Sanyo for $4.6 billion in a bid to enter the burgeoning lithium ion battery business.
So what does it mean when the world's largest producer of plasma TVs decides it doesn't care about television anymore? Obviously, plasmas are on the way out, but the major consumer electronics manufacturers are about to engage in an all-out war to control the next generation of green technology—whether it be smart meter-related appliances, solar panels, or car batteries.