Japanese lithium-ion battery maker Panasonic is starting to see its batteries as a platform for future energy services and applications, similar to how the iPhone enabled an explosion of web apps.
At the Cleantech Group forum in San Francisco on Wednesday, Panasonic’s leader of its Energy Solutions Center, Hiroshi Edo Hanafusa, told an audience that he’s looking for young talent to build the next generation of energy services off of Panasonic’s battery platform. Panasonic is building a software and cloud-enabled platform that can connect their batteries and enable them to be used for applications for managing the grid (read more about the need for battery software here).
You could see the shout-out to the audience as Panasonic’s way to recruit the next Elon Musk, or an innovative energy entrepreneur that can capitalize on its batteries. Musk’s electric car company Tesla Motors uses Panasonic’s batteries in its car’s battery pack, and Tesla is planning on building a massive battery factory in the U.S. — likely partnering with Panasonic — to increase the battery production for its cars. Hanafusa said that he didn’t know for sure if Panasonic and Tesla were officially partnering on the factory but that the collaboration is “a high possibility,” in his opinion.
Hanafusa said that collaboration was the best way to produce an electric car battery, because Tesla knows the application for the battery, while Panasonic knows how to make batteries at scale at a low cost. Tesla’s huge battery factory could lower the cost of the battery production by 30 percent, Tesla has said.
Those Tesla batteries will also be used for power grid applications, at least some of those likely paired with solar panels via solar installer SolarCity — a company that Musk Chairs and backed early on. The market for batteries for the power grid is growing dramatically and Tesla’s factory announcement helped shine a light on this market.
Clearly Panasonic sees its batteries as a major backbone for tomorrow’s energy services. Will energy apps bloom like applications on the iPhone?