Toshiba Corp., known more for its DVD players and computers, wants a piece of the solar market, too.

The Japanese company on Monday said it has formed a group to build solar power plants. The company already makes equipment for nuclear and hydroelectric power plants, as well as components for power transmission systems.

Some of Toshiba's competitors in the consumer electronics business have been building factories to produce solar cells and assemble into panels (see Sanyo Builds New Factory, Enters Thin-Film Fray and Sharp Guns for U.S. Thin-Film Market). Panasonic is buying Sanyo partly to get into the solar business (see Panasonic to Buy Sanyo for $9B).

But Toshiba's interest, at least for the time being, is to provide engineering services using solar panels from other suppliers and components it itself makes for developing large-scale power plants for utilities and business customers.

The company has created a solar business unit within its Transmission Distribution and Industrial Systems Co. Aside from citing its experience in engineering and assembling equipment for power generation and transmission systems, Toshiba said its effort in developing a fast-charging lithium-ion battery has prepped it for the renewable energy business.

The company is developing the super-charge ion battery (SCiB), made with lithium titanium, for laptop computers and bikes (see Green Light post). It also is eyeing the hybrid-electric car market, and recently announced a plan to spend 30 billion yen ($331 million) to build a SCiB factory.

The company expects to generate 200 billion yen ($2.2 billion) in annual sales from its solar energy system business by the 2015 fiscal year ending March 2016.