Japan Forced to Save Energy in Disaster

JAPAN has had its focus firmly set on energy efficiency since being hit so tragically by the earthquake and ensuing tsunami a week ago.

With the continuing problems at the Fukushima Power Plant and the catastrophic destruction of infrastructure, a nation that once used energy freely is suffering from blackouts and drastic energy efficiency measures.

In Tokyo passengers on the once super efficient underground system now have to take the stairs as the escalators are out of use to conserve energy. Blackouts are occurring, some scheduled some not, stores are closing early and cafes and bars are using candle light or battery powered tea lights. The situation could have been far worse if energy efficiency had not been implemented by many previous to last Friday’s disaster.

Tokyo Vice-Mayor Naoki Inose, explained that the electricity demand in Tokyo exceeds the supply by one-third, and a reduction of 25 percent is necessary to avert sudden, massive blackouts. As a result, Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) is running rolling power outages in Tokyo and neighboring areas.

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano exhorted the nation to "save electricity in the maximum possible way."

Businesses in the Japanese capital began limiting large-scale energy consumption, while the usually neon-lit districts of Tokyo saw a switch off of the lights, although crowds still filled the streets in the unusual darkness.

Thus far, the energy saving efforts have brought modest success leading to TEPCO officials stating that many regions that had been scheduled for outages were able to avoid them thanks to reduced consumption levels.

One commentator said: “Perhaps the new attitude of conservation could have unexpected positive outcomes in the future. People in Japan use too much energy. This is the time for us to change our lives."

Also the crisis at the Fukushima Nuclear power plant is leading many nations to reconsider the use of nuclear power, with energy efficiency offering the quickest, cheapest and a most effective way to generate energy, by wasting less of what we already produce.

Picture of Sendai by Official U.S. Navy Imagery

Friday 18th March 2011

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