Japanese business and the scientific community habitually employ kaizen--the continuous pursuit of incremental improvements--as their modus operendi, and this project is no exception.
According to JR, the current technology, which is in its third iteration, will produce 100 times more electricity than the first version used in 2006. Power collection efficiency, which typically fell up to 33% in previous trials, is expected to drop by only 10% in the most recent test which is underway at Tokyo Station and will continue until early March.
Given creative new approaches like step energy, and skyrocketing worldwide interest in eco-friendly living, I wonder just how far we are from a tipping point in energy creation and use. Just a couple of weeks ago, the New York Times featured an article on German "passive houses" which require no heating and cost only 5-7% more to build than other homes. Given Japan's precarious energy situation, it would be inspiring if the country could continue introducing highly visible initiatives that demonstrate leadership in this arena.