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2011年3月26日 (土)

電力不足 節電に努め長期化に備えよ

The Yomiuri Shimbun (Mar. 25, 2011)
Prepare for lengthy power shortage
電力不足 節電に努め長期化に備えよ(3月24日付・読売社説)

A prolonged energy shortage is unavoidable in areas serviced by Tokyo Electric Power Co., due to the damage caused by the massive earthquake that hit the Tohoku and Kanto regions.

The government must draw up a power supply plan through in-depth discussions with TEPCO and inform the public about it so as not to cause confusion.

Industrial circles and ordinary households will be asked to cooperate in efforts to deal with the power outage and save electricity.

Planned blackouts in areas supplied with power from TEPCO began March 14. There was great confusion at first, partly due to inadequate explanations by TEPCO. Ten days have passed since then and problems remain, but the situation is stabilizing.

TEPCO plans to conclude its planned power outages by the end of April, when supply is expected to meet demand. But a worrisome situation is expected in summer.

The quake severely damaged TEPCO's power plants, including the Fukushima Nos. 1 and 2 nuclear facilities. It can now supply only 37.5 million kilowatts per day, not enough to meet demand.


TEPCO trying to boost supply

Because of this, TEPCO is working hard to boost its supply capability by resuming operations at its thermal power plant in the Tokyo Bay area, which had been idle. By the end of April, TEPCO is expected to be able to supply about 43 million kilowatts, which should meet demand at least for the time being.

In summer, however, air conditioners will be turned on en masse, increasing the daily demand for power to 60 million kilowatts in an average year.

TEPCO hopes to restore its power plants by then, including another thermal facility that was damaged in the quake. But it is expected to secure only about 50 million kilowatts through restoration work, so the problem remains of how to make up for the shortfall.

The government is studying the possibility of limiting the total amount of power that can be used by businesses, a measure previously implemented during the 1970s oil crises. Reviving the system, designed to regulate how much each company can consume, is inevitable.

This method was effective at the time of the crises because the industrial sector accounted for a high percentage of the total power consumed at that time. Now that the amount of power in general use has increased, however, the benefits of this approach will be limited.


Interchange insufficient

Surplus electricity could be obtained from western Japan. Because this requires converting the frequency, however, this method of power supply is limited to 1 million kilowatts a day.

Needless to say, TEPCO needs to boost its conversion ability, but as it would take quite some time to do this, TEPCO would not be able to finish in time for the increased demand in summer.

Given these circumstances, another cycle of planned power outages is inevitable. TEPCO must root out problems and make these outages run smoothly.

Apart from the power plants in Fukushima Prefecture, the company needs to examine, in the medium term, restarting nuclear plants whose operations have been suspended.

If enough time is spent on repairs and safety inspections, it would be possible to restart operations at TEPCO's Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant, where three reactors have been idle due to the impact of the 2007 Niigata Prefecture Chuetsu Offshore Earthquake, and at Tohoku Electric Power Co.'s Onagawa nuclear power plant, which stopped operating after the March 11 quake.

It will be difficult, but efforts to win the understanding of local residents will be essential.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, March 24, 2011)
(2011年3月24日01時17分  読売新聞)


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