Asian Technology Giants Striding into Green Products

In separate announcements over the last week, two of the world’s largest makers of electronic devices, Samsung and Panasonic, have announced multi-billion dollar investments in green technology.

Despite the rather dry language of these financial announcements, the sheer amount of money involved is an exciting indication that key business decision-makers believe green technology is the future. Their investments also mean that consumers worldwide will soon see an expanding array of green products on offer.

On Tuesday, South Korean conglomerate Samsung announced at a press briefing that it would invest a whopping $20.6 billion (23.3 trillion won) in five green tech areas: solar cells, rechargeable cells for hybrid electric vehicles, LED technologies, biopharmaceuticals and medical devices, according to the Associated Press.

Last Friday, Japanese conglomerate Panasonic announced a three-year plan to transform into a “Green Innovation Company,” including investing $3.3 billion in its fuel cell business, and a $2.5 billion reorientation of its consumer products line towards greener, energy-efficient technology, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Samsung’s biggest bet will be in the LED lighting market, where it plans to spend 8.6 trillion won ($7.6 billion). LED lighting is poised to be the next big thing in energy efficiency; a report out of Pike Research predicts nearly half of the commercial lighting business will be LED by 2020.

Both companies’ plans also include aggressive moves into the solar cell market, which could help push panel prices down further in that already-crowded industry.

All in all, the news from Panasonic and Samsung is positive. For anyone looking for the “business case” for going green, clearly these two companies have found it.

BC (Ben) Upham is a freelance writer based in Los Angeles. He has written for the New York Times, and was a writer and editor for News Communications, Inc., a local paper consortium serving Manhattan. When he's not blogging on green issues -- and especially renewable energy -- he's hiking in the Angeles Mountains or hanging out at El Matador.