Decrease of Japanese power consumption to adapt to the fading nuclear activity

The Japanese are large electricity consumers; their consumption per capita reached 7,700 kWh in 2010, i.e. the same level as the OECD average but 30 % higher than the EU average. The share of electricity represented about 25% of total energy consumption in 2010, compared to 21% for the OECD average and 20% in Europe. Nuclear power contributes to more than ¼ of the electricity production, the same contribution as coal and gas.  

Power generation in Japan (2010)

Source : Enerdata - Global Energy and CO2 Data

The power generation from nuclear has considerably reduced since Fukushima, with only 11% of reactors in operation in December 2011 ...

The country’s nuclear production was greatly disturbed following the 8.9-magnitude earthquake that struck Japan in March 2011. Eleven reactors at four nuclear power plants in the region were operating at the time and all shut down automatically when the quake hit. The operating units that shut down were Tepco's Fukushima Daiichi 1, 2, 3, Fukushima Daini 1, 2, 3, 4, Tohoku's Onagawa 1, 2, 3, and Japco's Tokai (total 9,377 MWe net). Fukushima Daiichi units 4-6 were not operating at the time, but were impacted (total 2,587 MWe net). Eight other reactors were closed in April/May2011. After that date all nuclear power plant units closed for routine maintenance were not allowed to restart. As a result, the number of operating nuclear units has dropped rapidly: only 6 units were in operation at the end of 2011, and 3 in February 2012 out of a total of 54 units.

Nuclear power plants in Japan (January 2011- February 2012)

Source : Enerdata, fromIEEJ

... Resulting in a decrease in the total power production by 5% in 2011

As a result, total power production decreased by 5% in 2011 and nuclear power production was reduced by 43% between 2010 and 2011. To overcome the drop in nuclear production, thermal production increased substantially in 2011, by 18%.

Nuclear  and total power production

Stringent measures were implemented in summer 2011 to adapt demand to a lower supply

In July 2011, to overcome the summer peak period of power demand in Japan, the government implemented a plan which demanded a 15% reduction in usage for all electricity consumers.  Restrictions by law were passes to restrict large energy users during peak times in the service areas of Tohoku EPCO and TEPCO, the two power companies operating in the areas impacted by the earthquake. Large electricity users were required to voluntarily formulate and implement plans for reducing their power consumption during peak times (100,000 plans implemented). Article 27 of the Electricity Business Act, "Restriction on Use of Electricity," was enacted to secure the effectiveness of demand suppression and fairness among electricity users. For small electricity users, the Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), the Ministry in charge of the energy sector, presented examples of electricity-saving measures related to lighting, AC, etc., and encouraged consumers to formulate and implement voluntary energy-saving action plans to achieve the target.

These measures had a very significant impact on power consumption

These measures had a real impact: total power consumption decreased by 4.7% in 2011 compared to 2010, with a decrease reaching 11.5% in August, month corresponding to a peak in demand due to air conditioning.

Power demand in Japan

Source : Enerdata, from EDMC, 10 Electric power Companies’Total

This reduction was effective in all sectors, in particular in residential and commercial, where it was a voluntary action (consumption reduction of 15% in summer 2011 compared to 2010).

Will consumers further reduce their power consumption in the near future?

Following the summer plan, and without significant price increase, consumers changed their electricity consumption behaviors. However, it must be noticed that the summer of 2011 was cooler than in 2010 (cooling degree days 15% lower), as air conditioning represents up to 50% of final consumption during summer, the consumption reduction climate corrected is thus less important (~7.5%). In November 2011, the Japan government published the “Electricity supply-demand measures in winter time” to overcome peak demand caused by space heating. Will consumers adapt their consumption as they did during the summer of 2011?

The Japanese government plans to shut down all nuclear power plants in the next few months. TEPCO has unveiled plans to raise electricity prices for the first time in more than 30 years. Will consumers further reduce their power consumption in 2012?

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