Gas supply uncertainty: Japan goes into energy-saving mode

TOKYO, 1 Dec 2022:

Japan began a period of energy savings today – in which the government recommends citizens use heating as little as possible, among other measures, due to the decrease in gas supplies the country receives.

It is the first time Japan has applied a national plan to save energy during the winter since 2015, when all the country’s nuclear reactors remained inoperative as a result of the atomic blackout resulting from the accident at the Fukushima plant in 2011.

The liquid natural gas supplies Japan uses to power its thermal power plants have decreased as a result of the interruptions derived from the Russian invasion of Ukraine – a circumstance that has increased the energy uncertainty of a country highly dependent on its imports of these resources.

“We will take all possible measures to guarantee a stable supply of electricity,” Economy, Trade and Industry Minister Yasutoshi Nishimura said at a news conference yesterday.

The government is in talks with other countries affected by the same problems to “coordinate efforts to guarantee the supply of natural gas,” the minister said.

Japan plans to maintain a reserve of 3% of its energy production capacity, the minimum level considered necessary to offer a stable supply during the winter in the event of interruptions in the arrival of gas.

At the same time, authorities call on individuals and companies to use as little energy as possible in the face of eventualities such as natural disasters or problems in power plants that could further reduce the availability of electricity and gas.

The government has created a system of points to compensate households that reduce their energy consumption with discounts on upcoming electricity bills, and recommends installing thermal insulation systems in buildings or turning off the lights when they are not necessary, among other measures.

Some companies such as the Sony conglomerate announced their intention to turn off their illuminated signs when the electricity supply system is under pressure.

January is expected to be the most critical stage in the country in terms of electricity demand, due to the minimum temperatures that are expected in a large part of the Japanese archipelago.

In March, Japan was on the verge of suffering blackouts in large parts of the country due to power outages resulting from a strong earthquake that affected the northeast of the country and caused the temporary interruption of several thermal plants, and which coincided with a wave of cold.

The government also plans to accelerate the reactivation of nuclear plants that meet the new and stricter safety requirements, as part of its measures to guarantee a stable electricity supply in the current situation.