TOKYO — East Japan Railway, Japan’s biggest railway company, plans to boost the use of renewable energy in its operations to meet its goal of cutting carbon dioxide emissions to zero by 2050.
By fiscal year 2030, JR East plans to replace about 20% of the total electricity used in its railway business with private power generation using wind power and solar power.
The company will also consider replacing liquefied natural gas power plants, which cover about 40% of private power generation, with next-generation fuel cell power generation.
JR East’s railway business emitted 1.99 million tons of carbon dioxide in fiscal year 2019. The company plans to reduce the figure to about 1 million tons in fiscal year 2030.
The annual power consumption of its railway business is about 5.8 billion kilowatt-hours, 40% of which is purchased from outside parties such as Tokyo Electric Power Co. Holdings.
In the Tohoku area, which uses about 1.1 billion kilowatt-hours — half of the amount it purchases — JR East will switch to in-house power generation derived from renewable energy in fiscal year 2030 and reduce emissions to virtually zero.
There are 21 renewable energy power generation facilities currently in operation in Akita Prefecture and other areas, and 16 new power plants will be planned or considered in areas including Akita and Fukushima by fiscal year 2030.
In addition to onshore wind power, solar power and biotechnology, JR East will also consider the installation of power plants using offshore wind power.
JR East is also considering converting one of the four LNG thermal power plants in Kawasaki to a cycle that combines gas turbines and fuel cells around 2030.
According to the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism, total CO2 emissions in the domestic transportation sector are 5% for aviation, 4.9% for domestic shipping and 3.9% for railways. Other domestic railway companies are also expected to step up efforts to cut emissions.
One of them, Tokyu, will reduce CO2 emissions from electricity usage by 30% in 2030. The operating power of its Setagaya Line in Tokyo has already been switched to 100% renewable energy. West Japan Railway installed a large-scale solar power plant in Yamaguchi Prefecture in 2015. It generates electricity equivalent to the usage of about 1,020 households.