A Vice President of TEPCO—Japanese corporate vice presidents are more important than the typical American VP—said that the blackouts could be over some time in April but would likely have to return in peak-demand summer. That did seem like a very quick turnaround, so I speculated about the reasons for this optimism. Essentially, I guessed that TEPCO had a pretty good idea of how quickly the fossil fuel power plants that had gone offline could be brought back but was limited by the resources available—and of course would likely be offering a conservative estimate just to be on the safe side. Professor Michael Smitka pointed out that there would be a spring dip in demand, between the need for winter heating and summer cooling. The following is essentially a copy of a follow-up email. It turns out, there’s more. I’m sure that the public would welcome anyone with the means to create credible scenarios as a first step to quantifying economic impact. If you do that or find anything out there on this, drop me a notice and I’ll be happy to kink to it, or otherwise take note here and elsewhere. Thanks.
And yes, I am conserving energy by not producing original material for the blog.
I've had this thing sitting on my PC most of the day, and I've run out of energy to do the subject justice. finish it. So I'm sending it out on the Earthquake list, to which I've added people who might be interested in following up on their own, as well as some people who have been kind enough to express their concern (who may find my earlier messages amusing. Or not).
Oh, and the ads on the trains have taken a huge dip, and the self-generated, space-eater ads have come back this week. And thanks again for the lunch, DS. OJ
From media reports, a couple of pieces of information regarding the economic impact:
(Mar 18) Keidanren asked TEPCO on Mar.17 to reconsider the current arrangement because 1) factories could not know beforehand when it might have to shut down (note: Yesterday, I think, TEPCO posted a weekly schedule here http://www.tepco.co.jp/cc/press/betu11_j/images/110317g.pdf--although the most detailed publicly available information from my municipal government says only that my neighborhood is a Group 2-Group 4 mixed one); and b) factories that required lengthy adjustments could not cope with daily 3-hour shutdowns. Settling into a routine turns out not to be sufficient. So the question is: Can TEPCO prioritize and make individualized arrangements for specific businesses? Industrial customers can, if I remember correctly, cut specific deals regarding security of supply, but can they be accommodated within a rolling blackout? I suspect that it's easier to deny reduce supply to specific customers in an emergency than to maintain that supply during a general supply denial.
(Mar 18) TEPCO announced on March 17 that it would install multiple 30MW gas turbine power generators in time for the summertime surge in demand. (The Philippines also installed such generators under President Ramos and wound up surprising visitors who went there expecting blackouts and saw Xmas lighting everywhere.) TEPCO would also a) raise operation rates at existing fossil fuel power plants (but would not reactivate the idle reactors at Kashiwazaki); b) increase purchase from IPPs; c) reactivate Higashi Ogishma (2GW) and Kashima (4.4GW) by the first ten days of April (上旬 for those of you who can read Japanese)., and d) reactivate old idle fossil fuel generators. TEPCO is currently down to 34GW and had been expecting the Mar18 peak load (18:00-19:00) to reach 40GW but would now be only 37GW due to the weather, household self-restraint, and the most recent round of train schedule reductions (which hit JR Kanto, the Tokyo metro system, and some private railways. Anyway,
Now TEPCO's historical peak-load summer and winter highs are 64.3GW (24 July 2000) and 55.0GW (23 January 2008) winter (http://www.tepco.co.jp/company/corp-com/annai/shiryou/suuhyou/pdf/suh02-j.pdf) while its total pre-earthquake capacity was 78.1GW (TEPCO capacity 65.0GW; net purchased capacity 13.1GW http://www.tepco.co.jp/company/corp-com/annai/shiryou/suuhyou/pdf/suh03-j.pdf). Keep digging around for more detailed information, and an experienced analyst could probably come up with a range of scenarios for the Tokyo energy situation and its impact on the Japanese economy. Of course there's rest of Japan, most significantly EPCO and the Tohoku region. Long-term, many people must be working on the global energy situation, where the future of the nuclear buildout in the emerging economies will be crucial.