Has Saving Energy Become the New Normal in Tokyo?

From New York Times

By Christopher F. Schuetze

Tokyo Electric Power Company customers used 34.9 gigawatts of energy this afternoon at five o’clock, up from 22.7 gigawatts at 3 o’clock in the morning. Such arcane and precise information is a matter of common knowledge in Japan these days, where energy consumption rates are updated hourly and often reported alongside the weather forecast.

Since the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in March 2011, the Japanese have had to learn to become strident energy savers. Due to extensive safety checks, just 2 of the more than 50 nuclear reactors that produced some 30 percent of Japan’s energy before the disaster are still active, still leading to energy shortages in the country 19 months after the disaster. Since none of Tepco’s 10 reactors are currently active, all of Tokyo’s energy — 40 gigawatts at any given time — comes from non-nuclear sources.

“Japanese consumers try to save more energy than before” March 2011, said Jiro Adachi, director general of the Japan Center for a Sustainable Environment and Society, or JACSES.

The energy usage updates supplied by Tepco are color-coded, much like the U.S. Homeland Security Advisory System in place for most of the last decade. Green indicates that the power usage is within 90 percent of the country’s energy capacity, yellow indicates that 90-95 percent of capacity is being used, orange tells Japanese consumers that they are using up to 97 percent of available energy and red is reserved for energy usage that comes close to reaching the total amount of energy available on any given day.

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