Competition between power companies is likely to intensify after Tokyo Electric Power Co.’s Thursday announcement of a plan to sell electricity across the nation. Other power companies have already begun expanding their markets into the Tokyo metropolitan area, in the run-up to a full and nationwide liberalization of the electricity retail business planned for 2016. TEPCO’s latest moves will target businesses in Kansai and Chubu, as well as other regions.
Japan’s food self-sufficiency rate in fiscal 2012 remained at 39 % on a calorific input basis for the third consecutive year, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries announced Thursday, August 8. Although rice consumption dropped amid higher prices, the self-sufficiency rate maintained its level, as consumption of Japanese-grown wheat and soybean grew thanks to increased amount of harvested crop, the ministry reported.
TWO years have passed since an earthquake and tsunami destroyed the huge Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear plant owned by Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), on the Japanese north-east coast—and precipitated a phased shutdown of the country’s 54 nuclear plants for stress testing, maintenance and further seismic analysis.
With the last reactor turned off in May 2012, the past summer was when Japan started to live without nuclear power for the first time since 1970. Before the disaster struck, nuclear power accounted for 29% of the country’s electricity supply, with plans for boosting it to 50% by 2030. Such intentions are now out of the question. To compensate for the loss of such a large chunk of electrical capacity, households and businesses across Japan were threatened with black-outs and to make reductions of up to 15% in consumption or face stiff penalties. In the immediate aftermath of the disaster, the electricity was switched off in some parts of the country for up to four hours a day.
Rikuzentakata, like many towns on Japan’s rugged north-east Pacific coast, was in decline even before last year’s tsunami killed 1 700 of its 24 000 inhabitants and destroyed most of its downtown buildings. With two-thirds of the remaining residents homeless, mayor Futoshi Toba questioned whether the town could recover. Damage to infrastructure and the local economy, he said, would force people to move away to find jobs.
Japan is poised to overtake Germany and Italy to become the world’s second-biggest market for solar power as incentives starting July 1 drive sales for equipment makers from Yingli Green Energy Holdings Co. to Kyocera Corp. Industry Minister Yukio Edano set today a premium price for solar electricity that’s about triple what industrial users now pay for conventional power.
The people at NTT Docomo have often proved already that they are environmentally conscious. Next year, the Japanese provider will begin outfitting its expansive cellphone tower network with ten "green transmission stations," to be powered by an artillery of biofuels, wind and solar energy. This kind of infrastructure would obviously bring a smile to the face of Mother Nature, but it could also help mitigate the adverse effects of power outages on cellphones. And for that, we should all be grateful.
Everything old is new again for one Japanese manufacturer, which has unveiled an electronic version of a rickshaw. The "Meguru" is a three-wheeled, three-seat compact vehicle whose single lithium-ion battery allows for a maximum speed and range of 40 kilometers (25 miles) per hour, although the number of batteries could be increased for a longer ride.
The country that brought us vending machines for hamburgers and adult videos, as well as ones that use facial-recognition technology, now introduces a solar-powered variety. Though Japan's population is declining, its numbers are holding steady when it comes to vending machines. Over five million are plugged into the grid, about one for every 23 citizens -- the most anywhere.
East Japan Railway Co. started operations of a hybrid passenger train with an electric motor and diesel engine Saturday in Nagano Prefecture, the first of its kind designated for tourists. The Resort View Furusato train will run between the city of Nagano and Minami-Otari stations once a day until Dec. 26. All 78 seats of the two cars are occupied by passengers, JR East said. The train features large windows so that passengers can enjoy the scenic views, and the front carriage is an observation car.
In a bid to capture and exploit wasted heat, a consortium of Japans biggest companies plans to use body warmth generated by lazing around into energy for powering TV remotes. The “energy scavenging” campaign has been formed by 23 Japanese companies, including bitter rivals Honda and Toyota, with the aim of filling homes, offices and cars with electronic devices that can power themselves.