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We will strengthen our storage business as another pillar of our energy business, following solar cells, consumer rechargeable batteries and vehicle-mounted rechargeable batteries. Panasonic expects the global storage market to reach about 2 trillion yen in fiscal 2020. Our sales volume in FY11 is about 10 billion to 20 billion yen, and we aim to increase it to 50 billion yen in FY15 first.
The reason to look forward to the storage business is that, in addition to the uptick in the market, there will be "battery free" technology. The large storage system we supply includes a storage module equipped with 312 18650 size cylindrical lithium-ion rechargeable battery units and a battery control unit that controls the interaction with the system and the charge and discharge of the battery, which can be properly combined to support a variety of scales (Figure C-1).
Figure C-1: The control technology of the storage module is at the core
Large storage systems businesses use storage modules that line cylindrical lithium-ion rechargeable batteries. The technology to control the charging and discharging of a large number of storage modules and the interaction with the system will help differentiate the product.
The 1.5MWh battery storage system (general name: "megawatt battery") introduced by the vehicle-mounted rechargeable battery factory "Jiaxi Green Energy Park" combines about 1,000 battery storage modules. The battery control unit cluster, designed to enable multiple modules to operate in tandem, manages the charge and discharge of each battery while observing the actions of more than 300,000 batteries in total. Thus, the entire battery can be used as a single virtual battery. While the performance of the built-in lithium-ion rechargeable battery is also important, we have the advantage in terms of control technology. We have filed 71 patents in Japan alone for battery control of storage systems.
At present, the lithium-ion rechargeable batteries produced by ourselves are used. Of course, external procurement should also be included in the option range. However, it is also true that close information exchange with the rechargeable battery business has contributed to the accumulation of battery control technology. A battery storage system using on-board lithium-ion rechargeable batteries is planned for production in the second half of 2013. Battery control technology will also have to change by then. At present, we have the advantage of battery business which can be applied to the storage system business.