The Japanese government plans to install solar cells and wind turbines along railway tracks across the country


A perovskite solar cell, which can be bent due to its thin film, is seen in this image provided by Sekisui Chemical Co.

TOKYO — The Japanese government will begin full-fledged deliberations on installing solar cells that generate electricity from sunlight and wind-power generators along train tracks and on abandoned train tracks in the goal of increasing the production of renewable energy.

It is said that if solar cells are installed on the slopes next to railway tracks as far as possible across Japan, power exceeding the output of a nuclear reactor can be generated. If achieved, it will help the government take a step towards its goal of making renewable energy the main source of energy in the country.

The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism will soon set up a review committee consisting of East Japan Railway Co. (JR East), Japan Private Railway Association, experts and others.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry and the Ministry of the Environment will also join discussions for the actual installation. There will be discussions on ways to generate profits in the decarbonization sector, with the idea that the sale of electricity produced by railway companies will lead to the elimination of loss-making railway lines .

Ministry of Transport calculations on the railway network from Wakkanai in Japan’s northernmost prefecture, Hokkaido, to Kagoshima in southwestern Japan have revealed that it is possible to install solar cells on some 2,500 hectares slope, or 25 Tokyo Disneylands and DisneySeas each. Up to 1.4 million kilowatts can be generated, which can power over 500,000 homes per year when calculated in terms of the annual electricity consumption of general households in Japan’s three major metropolitan areas.

The government is considering the use of “perovskite” solar cells, which, if development progresses, can apparently be manufactured at low cost and can be attached to slopes, including steep terrain and the outer walls of station buildings. In areas of heavy snowfall where solar power generation cannot be expected, the government will consider installing wind power generators on abandoned railway lines.

(Japanese original by Hajime Nakatsugawa, Economic News Department)


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