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Power-saving campaign begins for 3 months

29 Comments

The government on Tuesday launched a voluntary power-saving campaign for businesses and households in all parts of Japan except Okinawa, in order to conserve electricity.

It is the first summer since the March 2011 disaster that all of the nation's nuclear reactors have been offline for the summer and the government is concerned there may be a power shortage, especially during the hottest part of summer.

The three-month campaign lasts from 9 a.m. until 8 p.m. (except Aug 13-15) until Sept 30. However, the government has not set any numerical targets. After the March 2011 disaster, the government set numerical power-saving targets in the summers of 2011 and 2012, but did not do so last year.

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said it doesn't expect there will be power shortages this summer but wants to be prepared just in case, Sankei Shimbun reported. Utilities say they have the minimum 3% reserve in power supplies.

The ministry is once again encouraging manufacturing companies to shift working hours this summer with some employees working nights and holidays, to avoid peak-demand hours. Train and subway stations will switch off some escalators and station lighting after rush hour.

Overall, the nine local power monopolies project a supply surplus of 4.6% in August, barely above the 3% minimum required, the ministry panel on power projects.

Power supply is likely to be tightest in western Japan where utilities that relied on nuclear energy for as much as half of their power supply in the past are the worst off. Blackout should be avoided, though, as companies swap power among themselves to keep overall supply above the minimum.

Kansai Electric, supplier of nearly a fifth of Japan's power, and Kyushu Electric barely achieved the minimum 3% margin last summer, the lowest of the nine companies, even after receiving power from Tokyo Electric in eastern Japan and help from other western utilities.

Kyushu's Sendai nuclear plant in southwestern Japan is on the fast-track for the safety review by the Nuclear Regulation Authority, and the plant's two reactors are the only ones among the nation's 48 that could resume power generation this summer, possibly as early as August.

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29 Comments
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Has the government opened the grid to allow Hokkaido Power Corporation sell power to Honshu yet? I heard that Hokkaido has an over capacity of power - but the government won't allow the transmission to Honshu. Also opening the transmission grids to others will allow alternative energy companies to invest in alternative power generation. The "power shortage" mentioned now is made by the government. There is lots of power resources around other than nuclear.

7 ( +9 / -2 )

Didn't I read on this very site there would be no need for power saving measures this summer? I worry about all the elderly that will forego ac because of this "suggestion."

2 ( +5 / -3 )

It's a voluntary campaign.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dear Osaka Doug

The idea of sending electrical power from Hokkaido is unrealistic.

The areas in Honshu that are closest to Hokkaido are not in need of feed-in power.

This article mentions that the demand will be highest in western Japan and metropolitan areas like Tokyo. To send power that far you would start with a lot at one end and finish with almost nothing at the other.

This would completely defeat the idea of saving power as outlined.

Under these circumstances, power saving would seem to be a logical decision.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

This is a sensible campaign and sadly rare example of responsible government leadership. It shows the power of competition to meet demand. The government needs to end its protective policies that have permitted Tepco to smugly inflict its incompetence on Japan and allow a truly open grid.

There have be NO power shortages since the nuclear power plants were shut down following the Fukashima disaster. If energy saving policies, energy sharing over an open grid, and the potential of rapidly developing alternate energy sources can meet Japan's energy needs, it makes a mockery of the professed "need" to restart the reactors.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

However, the government has not set any numerical targets

When does it ever set numerical targets for anything?

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Dear Garymalmgren: It IS very possible to transmit power over very long distances. Powerex Inc. <www.powerex.com> , a Canadian company has been doing this for decades. It sells surplus power from hydroelectric generation in Northern British Columbia, Rocky Mountains to the Western USA and all the way to Baja Mexico. Technically there is no problem selling surplus power from Hokkaido to Tokyo, Osaka and even Kyushu.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Even though it is "voluntary", we know that many elderly people take these things to heart, and feel they must listen to whatever the government says, thus putting themselves at risk of suffering heat stroke or some other heat related problem. I think this could be a real problem if the Kansai and Kanto areas experience another sweltering summer!

2 ( +7 / -5 )

Germany shut down all her nuclear power stations and actually exports power to neighbouring countries.

Japan with all its natural renewable resources is being hampered by its crony government - why aren't there solar panels on the roofs of apartment buildings,public buildings or on the mountains (national parks) ?

No money in providing cheap power to people is there.........

4 ( +7 / -3 )

Voluntary or not, looks like it is going to be a sweaty summer as many buildings, offices and shops fall into line.

9 ( +9 / -0 )

@MarkX Great comment ... well said!

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Just as long as this doesn't extend to the peak hour trains...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Dear Osaka Doug

I see your point concerning Canada and the US. I am aware that long distance trasmission of electricty is possible and done in most parts of the world.

The Canadians (as well as the Norwegians and others ) saw the potential (snuck that word in) of a market for their excess generation capacity and designed and built transmission systems to suit

But we are talking about Japan. The capacity for sending electctricty over very long distances was never built into the system. They have a very efficient interlocking system in place to compensate in times of disaster, but not for the case at hand.

An example of this is that the west and east parts of Japan operation on 50 or 60 hertz and there is only a limited number of sub stations that can convert across at a great cost. Therefore new trasmission and distrubution system would need to be built in Japan where they already exist elsewhere.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

Nothing new here. The last three years the wife has taken all this to heart and we rarely have more than two or three light bulbs on at the same time, often just one in the whole house. Not much room for further austerities.

When I go back to Europe I am amazed at the luxurious power usage, lights blazing throughout throughout the house and all night in many cases.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

It's not the lack of lightbulbs but the no aircon or fans. It's hot in here!!!

4 ( +4 / -0 )

The government on Tuesday launched a voluntary power-saving campaign for businesses and households in all parts of Japan except Okinawa

And Tokyo. Because Tokyo's special, being the political, cultural, and economic seat of Japan. And special means a second set of rules and expectations that allow Tokyy-area shopping malls and electronic superstores to operate with their air conditioning turned on high and the doors flung open.

Meanwhile, the rest of Japan bites the bullet and does more with less while Tokyo remains, well, Tokyo.

1 ( +5 / -4 )

Garymalmgren

But we are talking about Japan. The capacity for sending electctricty over very long distances was never built into the system. They have a very efficient interlocking system in place to compensate in times of disaster, but not for the case at hand.

An example of this is that the west and east parts of Japan operation on 50 or 60 hertz and there is only a limited number of sub stations that can convert across at a great cost. Therefore new trasmission and distrubution system would need to be built in Japan where they already exist elsewhere.

Then the system is not efficient as to trying to make out to be since they can't even compensate now.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Kurisupu,

Germany shut down all her nuclear power stations and actually exports power to neighbouring countries.

No, they shut down some, and are continuing to run some for now.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Always ironic to see power saving campaigns while at the same time you have places like Shinagawa station with something like 50 video screens on the same alley all dislpaying the same thing.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

This is a good move for reducing greenhouse gas emissions as Japan is now getting a huge amount of power burning fossil fuels. This should be a permanent, year-round step and much more organized to decide who and where to cut back, not the haphazard voluntary approach now in place.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Quote AKBfan: "It's not the lack of lightbulbs but the no aircon or fans. It's hot in here!!!"

Are you at work? That sounds bad, especially as it is still going to get a lot hotter. Luckily she allows me to use a fan, but our single aircon is permanently off.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My company loves it, its a great way to do cool biz which would be more appropriately named ketchi biz. Their banner says be careful of heat stroke while at the same time they limit the AC so we all suffer, plain stupid.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I thought this was a permanent campaign going on since the earthquake, at least the stations and trains that I use have setsuden signs and you can notice that they don't turn on all the lights.

This campaign while voluntary should be followed by a compulsory one ordering people to use deodorant.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Japanese irrationality is making themselves suffer.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

I'm not gonna follow it. This is just an excuse to let companies and institutions save some Yen and make the workers suffer in this horrible humidity under the guise of "the group". If one of my students tells me "we have an energy problem," I'm gonna reply, "no, you have a corruption problem, not an energy problem". Since this was brought on by TEPCO skimping on safety issues and greasing the palms of residents, politicians and regulators, now the whole population is told to pay for their corruption. No thanks.

I am the nail, hammer me down.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

Great point Fizz Bit, TEPCO made a record profit and on this very site a week ago we read that TEPCO is balking on payments to the residents of areas they displaced because of their incompetence and fraud. I refuse to cut back on the A/C merely to placate one of the most openly and arrogantly corrupt governments on earth that is actually run by the unelected bureaucrats behind the scenes in the ministries. Clean out the dead weight from this ha ha ahem Democracy wink wink and then I would consider some discomfort to me and mine. Make TEPCO pay for EVERYTHING they are responsible for before asking one single citizen to do anything.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This campaign . . . should be followed by a compulsory one ordering people to use deodorant.

Also, someone might want to mention to the general population that a cap of laundry bleach in the wash will do wonders for eliminating the unbearable stench of mold and mildew that makes the morning and evening train commutes such an unmitigated joy.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

Kazuaki ShimazakiJul. 01, 2014 - 08:10PM JST Japanese irrationality is making themselves suffer.

Agreed!! Save 1 en, lose 1000. I remember the curtain for a frige that Japanese so liked that days (now too, I guess). To "save" ("save"? haha) electricity for 1 en they buy this weird curtain that costs 1000 en. OMG. Always like that.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Germany shut down all her nuclear power stations and actually exports power to neighbouring countries.

Incorrect. Germany has shut down only pre-1981 nuclear reactors, 9 out of 17 reactors are still active and providing as much electricity as all renewables. Meanwhile, Germany is building new coal power plants and increasing thermal electricity production, which is way worse than nuclear.

Note that Germany's electricity is 80% more expensive than France's, which is the country that relies the most on nuclear power, and that exports massive quantities of electricity. And Germany's recent solar power installations generate electricity at a cost nearly 5 times higher than the new Finnish nuclear power reactor.

Japan with all its natural renewable resources is being hampered by its crony government - why aren't there solar panels on the roofs of apartment buildings,public buildings or on the mountains (national parks) ? No money in providing cheap power to people is there.........

There is nothing cheap about solar power. Solar power is barely competitive in the most favorable conditions, which are very rare. In most places, solar power is at least twice, if not thrice, as expensive as alternatives. Solar panels are expensive, require maintenance and have limited lifespans.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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