JR-West to Make 'Zero Energy' Train Station in Tottori

2019/08/23 19:00
Sousuke Kudou, technical writer
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West Japan Railway Company (JR-West) is making efforts to realize "Zero Energy Station (ZES)," which uses a solar power generation (PV) system and storage batteries to cover the power consumption of the facilities of its customers, at Higashihama Station (Tottori Prefecture) on the Sanin Main Line.

The efforts are part of the "Promotion of the Installation of Environmentally-conscious Stations, Etc" in the "JR-West Group Medium-term Management Plan 2022" and were announced at the president's meeting Aug 9, 2019.

ZES is a station that covers the power consumption of the facilities of its customers such as the station building's lighting and air-conditioning systems by combining a PV system and storage batteries on a clear day (when there is solar radiation for more than 40% of the period from sunrise to sunset). It is a standard set by JR-West. And this is the first time that the company has made such an effort.

JR-West will install 13kW of solar panels and 22kWh of storage batteries near the station building, planning to cover all the electricity used for customers' facilities in the building (20kWh per day). The amount of power generation will be visualized by setting up a display.

The solar panel, PV inverter and storage battery employed for the station are products of Panasonic Corp. They are scheduled to start operation in or after November 2019.

Solar panels will be set up in this area. (source: JR-West)

In addition, at the station, JR-West will test "energy harvesting" as a power source of low-power-consumption devices such as sensors. The company will apply two technologies: (1) microbiological electric generation that uses small devices to boost the voltage of weak electricity generated by microorganisms about 10 times and (2) vibration power generation that uses intermittent weak vibrations generated in natural environments. They are scheduled to be tested in or after November 2019.

JR-West is promoting the creation of "eco stations" that give consideration to environments by using, for example, energy-saving lighting systems, rainwater, PV systems and rooftop greening systems. As its major efforts, the company opened Osaka Station Building (using a PV system, rooftop greening system, rainwater, etc) in May 2011 and Maya Station on the JR Kobe Line (using a DC power conversion unit, PV system, all-LED lighting system, etc) in March 2019.