Tokyo faces big power shortages this summer

Blackouts could spread if east Japan doesn't save more electricity

Tokyo and surrounding areas face a large shortfall in electricity this summer and blackouts could become more frequent and widespread, Tokyo Electric Power warned on Friday.

Japan enjoyed one of the most reliable electricity supplies in the world until March 11, when a magnitude 9.0 earthquake knocked out several power stations. In the wake of the temblor Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO) began an unprecedented series of planned blackouts to deal with the drop in electricity output. The quake cut the company's generating capacity by about a third, to 31 gigawatts.

The scheduled blackouts see entire neighborhoods in areas surrounding Tokyo lose their power for up to three hours to prevent the supply system from being overloaded. They are scheduled each day from morning until evening, although in recent days have only been required in the evening when demand is highest.

The blackouts have already disrupted production at factories and offices of major Japanese electronics vendors. An expansion could further delay the return of such companies to normal operations.

The amount of electricity available to east Japan is slowly increasing as power stations come back online, but it could be months before some of the power stations recover. The stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, which was generating 2 GW when the quake hit, is likely to never produce electricity again.

As the weather gets warmer and evenings get longer, demand should fall because less heat and light is needed, but that decline is only expected to continue up to a point. When the summer begins and temperatures start climbing, Tokyoites typically switch on air conditioners.

Demand this summer is expected to be between 55 GW and 60 GW, but TEPCO predicts it will only be able to generate 45 GW of electricity.

The government said Friday it plans to work out a number of measures that would help reduce power demand. They could include increases in the price of electricity, offering longer holidays to workers and the introduction of daylight saving time. Japan last used daylight saving time when it was under U.S. occupation after World War II.

Homes and businesses across Tokyo have already implemented a number of energy-saving measures. Tokyo's famous neon signs and public displays have been switched off, shops are closing early, movie theaters are closed and the frequency of train services has been reduced. Japan's professional baseball league said it would halt night games through April.

The measures are paying off.

On Friday, power demand was 34 GW at 4 p.m. local time against TEPCO's capacity of 37.5 GW. At the same time last year, demand was over 40 GW.

Martyn Williams covers Japan and general technology breaking news for The IDG News Service. Follow Martyn on Twitter at @martyn_williams. Martyn's e-mail address is martyn_williams@idg.com

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags business issuesTokyo Electric Power Co.industry verticalsenergy

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?