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Japan’s electricity supply fine during heatwave, largely due to energy conservation and renewable energy

The principal factor behind the reserve capacity rates are the energy-saving efforts that were ingrained across Japan after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“Energy saving has become common at factories and homes

Fears of energy shortages melt away in stifling summer heat http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201808020071.html, THE ASAHI SHIMBUN, August 2, 2018

Japanese households will be able to crank up their air conditioners to survive the record-setting heat wave without the risk of power outages, thanks to conservation efforts and the spread of renewable energies.

The central government had previously encouraged residents and businesses to cut their summer power usage to prevent energy shortages.

But for the third consecutive year, the government has not issued such a request.

Instead, the government has asked people to be wary of heatstroke symptoms as the torrid temperatures are expected to continue through August.

“Please turn on air conditioners and give the highest priority to preventing heatstroke,” a government official said.

The biggest test for Japan’s electricity supply this year came on July 23, when the mercury hit a Japanese record 41.1 degrees in Kumagaya, Saitama Prefecture, and the temperature topped 40 degrees for the first time on record in Tokyo.

Air-conditioning usage in areas covered by Tokyo Electric Power Co. pushed peak demand to 56.53 million kilowatts between 2 p.m. and 3 pm., marking its highest demand this summer.

But TEPCO still had a 7.7-percent supply capacity against maximum demand, exceeding its minimum reserve rate of 3 percent, which is considered the lowest level necessary for a stable supply.

On the same day, electricity demand hit 26.07 million kilowatts at Chubu Electric Power Co., the highest for the utility this summer, when Tajimi, Gifu Prefecture, in central Japan, baked under 40.7-degree heat.

But Chubu Electric Power still had a supply capacity of 12 percent.

The principal factor behind the reserve capacity rates are the energy-saving efforts that were ingrained across Japan after the March 2011 Great East Japan Earthquake and tsunami devastated the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant.

“Energy saving has become common at factories and homes as a result of the rolling blackouts that were implemented in the wake of the 2011 disaster,” an official of TEPCO Power Grid Inc., a power transmission and distribution utility, said.

Maximum electricity demand before the disaster was about 60 million kilowatts. After the disaster, it fell by about 5 million kilowatts.

The spread of renewable energies, such as solar power generation, also helped to ensure a sufficient supply capacity.

Between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. on July 26, the summer’s maximum electricity demand in areas covered by Kyushu Electric Power Co. reached 16.01 million kilowatts. During that period, solar power provided 4.32 million kilowatts, or 27 percent, of the total energy supplied by Kyushu Electric Power.

Emergency measures have also been formulated, such as “negawatt” transactions, in which electric power companies facing a power crunch ask major consumers, such as factories, to limit their electricity usage and switch to their own in-house power generation supplies.

In exchange, the customers can receive discounts on their power bills.

Kyushu Electric Power and TEPCO have already experienced negawatt transactions.

Another measure is “power interchange,” through which power companies can “share” their electricity.

Power interchanges have been implemented 12 times since April 2015.

The power interchange and negawatt transaction saved Kansai Electric Power during a power crunch on July 17 and 18.

The company’s first negawatt transaction this summer allowed for an output of 270,000 kilowatts for each day.

In the first power interchange carried out this summer, Kansai Electric Power on July 18 received a total of 1 million kilowatts from five utilities, including TEPCO Power Grid, Chubu Electric Power and Hokuriku Electric Power Co., under the instructions of the Organization for Cross-regional Coordination of Transmission Operators, Japan (OCCTO).

The OCCTO’s purpose is to maintain stable electricity supplies.

Recent trends indicate that electricity supply and demand is much tighter in the evening than during the daytime.

That is because people use more electricity for lighting and cooking at night, and solar power generation, which helps utilities gain a sufficient electricity supply capacity in the daytime, plummets after sunset.

For that reason, Kansai Electric Power implemented the negawatt transactions and the power interchange in the evening.

The central government said it wants to turn renewable energy into a major power source. But an official of the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry said the immediate concern is dealing with power crunches.

“We will likely have more cases in which energy crunches occur outside of the times when demand for electricity peaks,” the official said. “Therefore, we will strive to ensure a regulated power supply.”

(This article was written by Rintaro Sakurai and Shinichi Sekine.)

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August 4, 2018 - Posted by | General News

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