Japan achieves its 15% energy reduction goal


I wrote a post a number of weeks back where I talked about how TEPCO were using realtime data to help manage energy demand in Japan. Towards the end of the piece I speculated on whether or not Japan would be able to maintain the effort through August – their hottest month.

You will remember that after the March earthquake, Japan had to shut down all but 15 of its 54 nuclear power plants. This forced the Japanese government to issue an order on July 1st obliging large scale users of electricity (>500kW) to cut their consumption by 15%. They also asked households and small businesses to do likewise but the cut was not legally binding on them

Well, according to the New York Times, Japan made it through the month of August and so successful were they, that this month, ahead of schedule, the government lifted all restrictions on power use. This despite the nuclear power stations not being turned back on.

This is an amazing success story and goes to show how, when a people are properly motivated (in this case with a sense of national pride and unity), they can achieve the seemingly impossible.

The downside of this story is that in the absence of nuclear power Japan is now burning far more fossil fuels to meets its energy requirements. Hopefully, they’ll transition away from fossil fuels and onto renewables to make up for the shortfall in their generation needs.

Photo credit Tom Raftery


Maybe it is a good thing this August was so wet in Ireland

Photo Credit Meredith Farmer

They say it rains in Ireland one day in every two and certainly this year it lived up to that reputation what with August 2008 being the wettest August since records began.

The Irish Met office said in its monthly report for August 2008:

August was a month of exceptionally heavy rain over most of the country, bringing flooding in many areas. Following the pattern of much of this summer’s weather, low pressure close to or over Ireland brought a succession of Atlantic frontal systems across the country, giving some significant falls. It was the wettest August on record at a number of stations, including Dublin (Phoenix Park), where rainfall records began in 1837.

Given that you’d imagine that Ireland would be the last place suffering from a shortage of water. You’d be wrong!

A recent report from Forfás, the national policy advisory body for enterprise and science identifies four major urban centres – Dublin, Galway, Athlone and Letterkenny which could face water shortages over the next five years. Why? Leaky pipes seems to account for a lot of it, it seems. From the report:

Ireland has relatively high levels of unaccounted for water. Approximately 43 percent of the total volume of treated drinking water produced in the Gateways and Hub towns is lost before it reaches the final consumer.

That goes some way to explaining how Dublin, a city of just over 1m people, consumes 500m liters of water per day.

That level of waste is absolutely outrageous and instead of trying to fix the problem, Dublin City Council are talking of piping water from Lough Rae, a special area of conservation on the Shannon in the West of Ireland to Dublin!

The correct way to tackle this is, similar to our current energy problems, make the system more efficient (fix the leaks) and manage the demand (start charging households for water). Ireland is one of the few EU countries which doesn’t charge its citizens for water, and it shows!

With just 1% spare capacity of water, in some ways maybe it is a good thing this August was so wet in Ireland, or the water shortages might have been a reality sooner than later.