JR-West Realizes 'Zero Energy Train Station' Using PV System, Batteries

2020/01/17 10:11
Sousuke Kudou, technical writer
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Solar panels set up at Higashihama Station (source: JR-West)
Microorganism power generation being tested at Higashihama Station (source: JR-West)

West Japan Railway Company (JR-West) established "Zero Energy Station (ZES)" at Higashihama Station on the Sanin Main Line.

The ZES uses a solar power generation (PV) system and storage batteries to cover the power consumption of the facilities for its customers such as the lighting and air-conditioning systems of the station building. JR-West started operation of the ZES Dec 20, 2019.

Near the station building, 13kW of solar panels and 22.4kWh of storage batteries were set up. They supply all the electricity consumed by the facilities for the station's customers (20kWh per day). The solar panel, PV inverter and storage battery employed for the ZES are products of Panasonic Corp.

ZES is a train station that uses only renewable energy supplied by combining a solar power generation (PV) system and storage batteries for powering facilities for customers such as the lighting and air-conditioning systems of the station building on clear days (when there is solar radiation for more than 40% of the period from sunrise to sunset). It is a standard set by JR-West.

In addition to the ZES, at the station, JR-West started to test "energy harvesting" as a power source of low-power-consumption devices such as sensors. Specifically, the company introduced the microorganism power generation technology of Sensingnet Inc (Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo) and environmental vibration power generation technology of Shizuoka University on a trial basis. The former is a technology to increase the voltage of weak electricity generated by microorganisms by about 900% while the latter uses continuous vibration generated in natural environments.

JR-West mentioned "Promotion of the Installation of Environmentally-conscious Stations, Etc" in the "JR-West Group Medium-term Management Plan 2022," which was announced in April 2018. As major efforts for it, the company introduced (1) a PV system, rooftop greening system, rainwater utilization system, etc at Osaka Station Building, which was opened in May 2011, and (2) a DC power conversion unit, PV system, all-LED lighting system, etc at Maya Station on the JR Kobe Line, which was opened in March 2016.