JR Japan

Developing a sustainable society

In pursuit of green energy

JR East has decided to install a wind turbine generator system in its own railway shelterbelt. This is the first time the company enters the wind turbine generation business. They plan to start construction this coming autumn and operation in the autumn of next year. The expected output and annual energy production of the above-mentioned wind turbine generator system is to be 2MW and 5800MWh, respectively. The electricity generated will be sold using the Feed-in Tariff (FiT). JR East has decided to invest in the new company and plans to develop a community-based business with local companies as partners. The aim is to achieve a power generation of 100MW by 2020 around the northern Tohoku region.

With regards to biomass power generation, JR East has established a joint enterprise with Sumitomo Group, which aims to be in operation from December 2017. The expected power generation capacity and annual energy production is to be 12MW and 85GWh, respectively. Timber from southern Aomori prefecture forest thinning and from the railroad shelterbelt will be used for its fuel. By taking advantage of the location that is close to the Hachinohe port, imported palm kernel shells from Southeast Asia will also be used.

In addition, JR East has begun to excavate a well for an investigatory study into geothermal power generation in the northern Tohoku region, in cooperation with Obayashi Corporation and Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Ltd. With the grant from the Survey Project Expense for Geothermal Resource Development Subsidy Program by Japan Oil, Gas and Metals National Corporation (JOGMEC), there will be an excavation of a well approximately 2,000 m in length in a national forest in Aomori city by the end of October. Keeping in mind a possibility of a geothermal power plant operation in this region, a study of topography, quantity of water, water temperature, geological structure and so on will be carried out. Together with this excavation, biological research, ecosystem survey and monitoring survey on the neighboring hot springs are also planned.

JR East has already started developing photovoltaic power generation projects in 5 places, since February last year. JR West has also started the operation of the largest photovoltaic power plant in the Japan Railways Group (JR Group) since March. Power generation scale and the quantity of annual generation are 5MW and 5100MWk, respectively. All generated electricity will be sold to the local power company, with expected annual revenue of approximately 1.4 million euros.

Energy-saving action

For the first time in the world, Railway Technical Research Institute (RTRI) has succeeded in running a test train on a commercial line, using a superconductive feeder cable. In this experiment, a superconductive feeder cable was installed to provide electricity in a substation of Izuhakone Railway, and one test train was operated in both directions. The main aim of this running test was to verify the fundamental technology of the connection of superconductive feeder cable to the actual commercial line facilities, system validation and so on for actual implementation. In the test, a 6m long superconductive feeder cable with a current carrying capacity of 2,080A was installed in a substation and incorporated into a feeder circuit. The transmission cable was cooled down to -200℃ with liquid nitrogen. Running test will continue on the commercial line for further development.

JR Kyushu has started operating a new commuter train specific for 1.5kV dc electrification section on the Chikuho line. The train has been designed with energy saving and a lower maintenance in mind and is considered to be a model train of the future. Damped wheels, where a rubber ring is sandwiched between the wheels to absorb vibration, a closed-type motor to reduce wind noise, as well as a rotary compressor have been adopted to achieve high noise reduction in the carriage. For environment reasons, LED lamps have been used for internal light and it is equipped with a permanent magnet synchronous motor to reduce the consumption of electricity. When compared to the 2 types of last generation train models, energy is saved by 43% and 15%, respectively. With regards to making it lower maintenance, as the motor is a closed-type, it prevents dust from entering and thus it is possible to be cleaned easily and only exchanging expendable supplies, such as bearings, is necessary. This can cut 90% of maintenance-related work in comparison to the last generation train models. JR Kyushu has a lot of non-electrification sections and updating the diesel trains is next on the list. There are plans to introduce battery trains (currently under development) for the urban areas with short distance lines, hybrid trains for areas with flat and long distance lines, and diesel-electric trains for areas with long distance lines with ascent and descent.