Power shortage concerns prompt Japanese government to call for reduction in AC power usage
Data from Japan
Economy Politics Lifestyle
Problems with nuclear and thermal power plants leave Japan little leeway to meet its energy needs during the heat of summer.
After the shutdown of a thermal power plant damaged in the Fukushima earthquake in March 2022, a first electricity shortage alert was announced for areas served by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) and Tōhoku Electric Power. The balance between electricity supply and demand has very little wiggle room due to aging thermal power plants and delays in restarting nuclear power plants, so it will remain difficult for electricians to supply energy . As Japan heads into summer, the government is calling on households and businesses to save electricity.
Along with slow progress in restarting nuclear power plants suspended due to the 2011 Great East Japan earthquake, thermal power plants that have become too old to operate are being decommissioned, resulting in a decrease in Japan’s electricity supply capacity. The government has asked households and businesses for their cooperation in conserving as much electricity as possible without affecting economic activities. This is the first national energy-saving application since 2015.
In order to provide a stable supply of electricity, the reserve ratio, which indicates the amount of excess supply capacity over demand, must be at least 3%. The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry predicts that if temperatures in the summer of 2022 reach their highest level in 10 years, the reserve rate will fall to 3.1% in the three service areas of Tōhoku, Tokyo and Chūbu, which will reduce line capacity. Capacity will also be difficult to predict in the Hokuriku, Kansai, Chūgoku, Shikoku and Kyūshū regions, as the reserve rate is expected to fall to 3.8%.
If the right balance between electricity generation and use is lost, it could lead to large-scale blackouts and cause social and economic disruption. The government is set to implement a number of measures, including requiring air conditioners in homes to be set to 28°C, while warning against heatstroke; asking companies to save electricity; and moving to restart the currently suspended operations of thermal power plants.
During the coldest period of next winter, the reserve ratio is expected to drop further nationwide. In the region served by TEPCO, it is expected to fall into negative during the period of January to February 2023 and it is also expected to fall below 3% in the six supply regions of Chūbu, Hokuriku, Kansai, Chūgoku, Shikoku and Kyushu.
(Originally published in Japanese. Banner photo © Pixta.)
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