The Summer of Power Saving (Setsuden)
August 25, 2011 by sevenbrane
Electricity usage on Aug. 24 (source: TEPCO)
Now that the worst of the summer heat is behind us, I guess I can safely venture to say that Japan has successfully taken on the challenge created by the power shortage created by the Tohoku Earthquake
and its aftermath. With not only the nuclear power plants actually damaged by the earthquake offline, but many more which the worried population did not allow to come back online after regular inspections, the service capacities of the Tokyo Electric Power Company
(TEPCO in short, or in Japanese, Tokyo Denryoku
) are below last summer’s peak demand. In anticipation of this situation, Japan has called on its citizens and businesses to make plans to use at least 15% less electricity than last summer.
The scarecrow of rolling blackouts in the summer heat (read: not only no air conditioning, but also no fridge, no freezer, etc.) did the trick. And community-minded Japan is the perfect society to be convinced by arguments such as “if we all use a little less, there is enough for everyone”. All summer, electricity demand has remained significantly below TEPCO’s maximum supply capacity and no rolling blackouts had to be implemented. While the efforts of the Japanese people are remarkable, the country also had a bit of help from the weather. While last summer had been the hottest on record (naturally generating high peak demand), this summer has been noticeably cooler thanks to a typhoon in July and heavy rains last week. This has naturally reduced the need for cooling.
Nonetheless, everyone had to play along with the general power saving, or setsuden
. Have the power saving measures been very hard on everyone? Not really. Indoor temperatures of 28 degrees are not actually a problem, and neither are having a few less lights on. IPMU has in addition turned off one of its elevators and most of the shower toilets. On the whole, I have only experienced very slight inconveniences. Isn’t it interesting to see that a highly industrialized society can actually significantly lower its electricity use without experiencing huge setbacks? A nudge towards less thoughtless waste of natural resources would do many countries in the developed world some good.
TEPCO offers a daily chart of electricity usage online, showing also the comparison to the electricity use on the same day last year.