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Japan Power

Electricity Rationing Starting Monday In Tokyo 286

Posted by samzenpus
from the news-keeps-getting-better dept.
siddesu writes "Japanese officials are announcing a schedule for electricity blackouts to last from tomorrow until the end of April. Practically all suburbs of Tokyo will be affected by the blackouts. The 23 districts of central Tokyo seem to be exempt for the moment, but if supply is not sufficient, blackouts are possible. Electricity will be interrupted for about 3 hours a day in each area."
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Electricity Rationing Starting Monday In Tokyo

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @06:53PM (#35475210)

    Problem solved.

  • by migglelon (1692138) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:02PM (#35475282)

    Says my buddy in Japan in an e-mail 10 minutes ago when I showed him this Slashdot post: "This already started. Trains are stopped this morning because of this. Many traffic jam too due to people evacuating from kanto area"

  • 50hz vs 60hz (Score:5, Interesting)

    by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:03PM (#35475286)

    I wonder how much of the power capacity issues is due to Japan using a combination of 50Hz and 60Hz power preventing them from easily sending power between the two systems? Though I guess they could have a high voltage DC intertie betwen the two, so maybe it's not so significant after all.

    Does anyone know why they haven't rectified (no pun intended, well ok, maybe a little) this situation years ago? Seems like there's lots of reasons for a country to have the same power standard.

    • Re:50hz vs 60hz (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Nethead (1563) <joe@nethead.com> on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:16PM (#35475348) Homepage Journal

      I think the issue is more that most of the nukes are off-line and a good percentage of the transmission lines and facilities are just not there any more.

      Check out these before/after shots [nytimes.com] (with a nifty little slider) to really understand that a lot of towns just are not there now.

      Even with the best civil defence of any nation, this is going to be a long haul for Japan.

      This is also a reminder of why, at least those in the US, should take http://www.citizencorps.gov/cert/ [slashdot.org]"?>CERT training, or what ever your local equivalent is. Oh, and get a ham radio and a license too and train with your local EmCommies.

      • by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:38PM (#35475466)

        I think the issue is more that most of the nukes are off-line and a good percentage of the transmission lines and facilities are just not there any more.

        I haven't seen any reports claiming that most of Japan's nukes are offline, most of the nukes are in the southern part of the country that mostly escaped damage from the quake and subsequent tsumani.

        I know that the Fukushima Daiichi (and Daini?) reactors are offline and they are working feverishly to try to prevent more serious problems there. I thought Tokai was offline, but they say they still have cooling power, so I'm not sure they are shut down. Are others also offline?

        But still, Tokyo escaped most of the damage along with the rest of the country further south where they use 60Hz power, so my question remains: does the 60/50Hz split make it harder to balance power across Japan's grid?

    • Re:50hz vs 60hz (Score:5, Interesting)

      by siddesu (698447) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:37PM (#35475462)

      A large portion. There is probably more than enough capacity in the West to compensate for the offline power stations in the East, but there is no transfer capacity beyond about an order or two of magnitude below what is needed. The whole system has been operating on the assumption that at least some of the power stations in the North will remain running. As it is, both those on the South and the North coast in the Eastern part are down, and the capacity is insufficient.

      Where it was planned to have transfer possible (e.g. The Shinkansen trains, for example, which can take power from both grids), there is less disruption. It is a sad example of bad planning due to historical accident. Japan uses two systems because back in the day, the Kansai electric company (Western Japan) got their generators from AEG in Germany, and Touden (TEPCO) in the East - from GE.

      • by magarity (164372) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:59PM (#35475582)

        There is probably more than enough capacity in the West to compensate for the offline power stations in the East, but there is no transfer capacity beyond about an order or two of magnitude below what is needed.

        Transmission is easy; convert the interior hold of an old container ship as a capacitor. I bet it could carry enough power to run Tokyo all week.

        • by hawguy (1600213) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:34PM (#35475774)

          Transmission is easy; convert the interior hold of an old container ship as a capacitor. I bet it could carry enough power to run Tokyo all week.

          I don't get it - is this some geek reference to a movie or video game? Or are you seriously suggesting that a container ship has enough volume to hold a capacitor large enough to power a large city for a week?

        • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:39PM (#35475800) Homepage

          Transmission is easy; convert the interior hold of an old container ship as a capacitor. I bet it could carry enough power to run Tokyo all week.

          Right. Doesn't that seem a little dangerous to you? All Godzilla has to do is short out the terminals and Zap! - No more Tokyo.

    • Re:50hz vs 60hz (Score:3, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:12PM (#35475668)

      As per the Japanese news, Japan is able to convert up to 1 million kW from 60 to 50 Hz, which is not enough to meet the 10 million kW gap in supply/demand. http://www.itmedia.co.jp/news/articles/1103/13/news013.html

    • Re:50hz vs 60hz (Score:5, Interesting)

      by leighklotz (192300) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:41PM (#35475818) Homepage

      I wonder how much of the power capacity issues is due to Japan using a combination of 50Hz and 60Hz power preventing them from easily sending power between the two systems?

      We have essentially 3 separate grids in the US, roughly East, West, and Texas. (Most of Texas is pretty much on its own.) Plus we have some long-distance high-voltage DC runs, both from Canada and up one down through Central California. NPR has a nice graphic, but in Flash: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=110997398 [npr.org]

      The 50/60 Hz 100/90v division line in Japan dates to the year 1600 and the battle of Seki-ga-hara [wikipedia.org]

      • by sphealey (2855) on Monday March 14, 2011 @05:26AM (#35477580)

        > The 50/60 Hz 100/90v division line in Japan dates to the year 1600
        > and the battle of Seki-ga-hara [wikipedia.org]

        The 50/60 Hz division in Japan dates to the point where Siemens salesmen happened to arrive at one end of the country and General Electric salesmen at the other end. Literally.

        sPh

    • by Kyusaku Natsume (1098) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @11:05PM (#35476532)

      I have posted this before http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=2035046&cid=35472440 [slashdot.org] but I will post an extract of it anyway again:

      he reason that eastern Japan blackouts will be more bad than needed and Tepco's problems with their nuclear power plants comes in this report http://www.ieej.or.jp/aperc/pdf/GRID_COMBINED_DRAFT.pdf [ieej.or.jp] from APEC:

      In fact, the overall transmission capacity to transfer power into Tokyo from neighbouring areas was quite substantial during the summer of 2003. Approximately 5,000 MW of power could have been transferred over transmission lines from Tohoku to the north, assuming the availability of surplus generating capacity. Another 300 MW of power could have been transferred from Chubu to the west, utilising DC links between the 50Hz and 60Hz power grids. (This amount will increase to 1,200 MW in September 2005, with the completion of new transmission lines.) So theoretically, as much as 5,300 MW in all might have been sent to Tokyo to make up for any capacity shortfalls...

      Available firm transmission capacity into Tokyo will total 1,130MW as of September 2005 (930 MW from Tohoku and 200 MW from Chubu), about a fifth of the overall transmission capacity of 6,200 MW (5,000 MW from Tohoku and 1,200 MW from Chubu). So the ability of adjacent areas to make up for power shortfalls in Tokyo on an ongoing basis would be quite limited, even if adjacent areas had as much surplus generating capacity as the capital area required. (emphasis mine)

      At best the Frequency Conversion Facilities can manage to provide 1200 Mw, give it or take. TEPCO owns at least 72 Gw of generating capacity, so at best they could get from the western grid only 3% of what they can produce. Personally, this affects me has I have a trip scheduled to Tokyo next Friday, and I believe that the best help that I can provide is to spend much needed money there has a tourist. My best wishes to all the people in Japan.

  • Trains (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wolfling1 (1808594) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:36PM (#35475448) Journal
    Power rationing will be insanely complex to manage. Their entire people-transit system is reliant upon electric trains and monorails. It makes sense that their trains are on separate circuits, but I sure don't envy the poor bastard who has to make that power schedule workable.
    • Re:Trains (Score:5, Interesting)

      by siddesu (698447) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:42PM (#35475480)

      There have been some issues with the announcements already :) My area (Setagaya district) wasn't on the list yesterday, but now they are saying rationing is possible here as well, from 1 to 5pm Japanese time. Trains are quite bad -- I live relatively near the city center, and now my station (Kyodo) is the last one a train goes to. People are walking from areas as far as 10 or 15 km to get on the local trains to Shinjuku.

      No one seems to be complaining for the moment -- people went out to get to work as early as 5:30AM this morning. Maybe some will start to grumble if the rationing doesn't affect the center of Tokyo where the politicians live, though.

    • by adnonsense (826530) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @11:44PM (#35476652) Homepage Journal

      Doesn't look like the train systems have their own separate power supplies; pretty much the entire network outside of some central lines has been pre-emptively shut down. This has had the effect of reducing demand as people simply can't get to their places of work of leisure. I've never seen Tokyo this un-crowded outside of the New Year holiday; for a normal working Monday it's pretty catastrophic.

  • by nido (102070) <nido56&yahoo,com> on Sunday March 13, 2011 @07:57PM (#35475572) Homepage

    The US Navy's aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships are an important part of relief efforts because they're mobile helicopter launching platforms. In a disaster, helicopters (and V-22 Ospreys [wikipedia.org]) are the only good way to get around.

    When President Obama said something in response to the earthquake, the first thing he said was that aircraft carriers were on their way:

    “We currently have an aircraft carrier in Japan and another is on its way,” he said at the news conference. “We also have a ship en route to the Marianas Islands to assist as needed.”
    ...

    On his Twitter feed this morning, Noriyuki Shikata, deputy cabinet secretary for public relations and director of global communications at the Japanese prime minister's office, said the Japanese government requested U.S. forces in Japan to support efforts to rescue people and to provide oil and medical aid via the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, adding his thanks to the U.S. government.

    -http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=63136 [defense.gov]

    Here's a report from today on defense.gov:

    ... The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan [wikipedia.org] is now off the coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu and the USS Tortuga [wikipedia.org] is expected to arrive today.

    According to reports, the Reagan is serving as place for Japanese helicopters to land and refuel. There are two escort ships with the Reagan and four more destroyers on the way to conduct search and rescue, according to reports.

    The Tortuga is loaded with two heavy lift MH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters. The USS Essex [wikipedia.org], an amphibious ship carrying a 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is still a couple days away.

    The USS Blue Ridge [wikipedia.org], a command ship loaded with relief supplies, has left Singapore but it will get to Japan after Essex.

    -U.S. Forces Provide Relief Aid to Japan [defense.gov] (wikipedia links added by me)

    The Navy just spent $662-million renovating the USS Enterprise. They're going to "throw it away" in 2 years, because it's an expensive ship to operate. I propose dedicating this ship to disaster relief. They can keep it in Hawaii, remove the fighter jets, and load it with heavy lift helicopters and everything that could possibly be needed in any type of disaster. Japan needs a lot of tents right now, but there probably aren't many in the Ronald Reagan's inventory.

    This is an evolution of my posts here last summer, "To Save the Gulf, Send the Enterprise" - thank you all for visiting, the feedback, and the +1's. :)

    When Disaster Strikes, Send the Enterprise [sendtheenterprise.org]. Or at least do a proper study, before throwing the ship away.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @01:04AM (#35476882)

      Interesting proposal. They'd still have to strip out a lot if they went along with the plans to re-purpose a carrier from a Navy warship to something like a Peace Corps ship. And even then there would be some kind of restriction where the Navy would want to remain in charge because it's nuclear powered. Also my experience with that ship is that holds and such are far from automated, the cargo elevators (for things like food stores) aren't reliable - so you need like 50+ people to hump boxes down to the freezer for unrep ops and the such. (And that's just on one end of it.) I guess re-purposed magazines can hold a lot of dry-non-perishables and the ship can crank out a whole lot of potable water in the right conditions. Yet even under this role, it may take much more manpower for some operations than a purpose-built merchant marine type vessel. Obviously the only unique advantage is aircraft support in a large scale coastal SAR operation.

      The primary reason why CVN-65 is so expensive to operate is that it's the only carrier in it's class. It's a prototype that was made before the Eisenhower class ships were built. So for many things it doesn't conform to any standard as compared to all the other nuclear carriers. It's a one-of-a-kind that has more in common with the older WWII ships. And instead of two reactors made specifically for carriers, it has eight reactors that were originally designed to be in submarines at the time. (And if you're familiar enough with it, it seems like a kludge in comparison to the other super-carriers. Although it obviously also features more redundancy, under normal situations all that does is provide a much bigger and more complex operating overhead.) Despite being slightly bigger than the Eisenhower class ships, it has more space dedicated to engineering and a larger schedule of parts needed for logistical support than they do (a big part of the two yard periods I remember were about reducing and consolidating parts needed for support) and that's why it's expensive to run.

  • by Copperhamster (1031604) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:53PM (#35475882)

    A game I play (Final Fantasy 11) has taken their servers, etc... offline for at least the next week, starting Saturday evening their time.

    Also a lot of extraneous power usage (lighting monuments, for example) has been shut down as well.

  • by Frangible (881728) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:59PM (#35475908)
    Couldn't we use the reactors aboard our nuclear vessels to provide some electricity if the ships aren't moving? ie, the USS Ronald Reagan and other Nimitz-class carriers have two Westinghouse A4W reactors producing 94MW each. I'm not sure if that could all be diverted to electrical transmission, but if so a few nuclear ships could temporarily provide power for a large area.
  • I have been a proponent of nuclear here on Slashdot for a very long time, and hopefully the issues with the reactors aren't as bad as the news that is dribbling out. However, this terrible disaster has caused me to have a lot of long thoughts about nuclear energy in general and I am quite sure that the situation in Japan looks terribly unappetizing. Hopefully Daiichi Number 3 is not on fire right now, and that the combined synergies of the Japanese government, the U.S., and other wealthy nations can come together to prevent even more nuclear carnage. In a way it is sadly ironic that the only nation to have ever been bombed with a nuclear weapon would embrace nuclear technology and its inherent benefits and dire drawbacks and then continue to run aging plants in extremely high risk areas. Newer reactors may indeed be safer, but their placement should be in areas with little to no seismic activity. Then again, I suppose that there are always other natural disasters including meteor impacts and the like, but the odds seem remote of a nuclear plant being hit by an impactor.

    It's just a travesty on so many levels, and comes at a time when we need energy in the world that is affordable and not based on carbon... My prayers go out to everyone in Japan and I guess there will be many stories and narratives of this event for years to come. It feels like more than the Earth shifted the other day. This feels like a paradigm shift, but what into what future, into what other parallel dimension did we travel? It is just so awful on so many levels, and reminds me how utterly powerless us humans are in the face of such phenomenal seismic power. That the destruction hasn't been worse, or even that the reactors have held mostly intact this long is a testament to Japans stringent design codes and standards.. I kind of stand in awe of how the Japanese seem to be bearing this catastrophe with a silent and brave spirit that won't be beaten. Anyway, I doubt rolling blackouts are a large burden.... and whatever burden it is, the brave people of Japan will shoulder it, and move forward.

    • by Marcika (1003625) on Monday March 14, 2011 @05:09AM (#35477534)

      That the destruction hasn't been worse, or even that the reactors have held mostly intact this long is a testament to Japans stringent design codes and standards

      The Fukushima reactors have remained intact throughout the quake and tsunami -- a quake seven times more powerful than they were designed for. Ironically, the point of failure were the fossil fuel backup generators that were installed to cool the reactor cores after they were scrammed as a precautionary measure -- those were washed away by the tsunami and the truck-mounted replacements could not be connected properly...

    • In addition to the link Doctor_Jest provided you, there's some things to keep in mind. It's highly unlikely that this could ever get to Chernobyl levels no matter what. The Chernobyl reactor did not have a containment shell, when the core melted down and the cooling water vaporised into steam there was nothing to contain the explosion, so it took out the surrounding structure easily and spread massive amounts of radioactive material into the environment. The Japanese reactors all have containment shells, so the core would have to manage to breach the containment shell before massive amounts of radioactive material could get into the environment. This is highly unlikely to happen. In fact, all signs are that at least a partial meltdown has already occurred, but the containment shells are still intact, exactly as designed. The explosions have been due to excess hydrogen released due to the heat of the reactors breaking down coolant water. These damaged the surrounding buildings, but not the containment shells.

      And while a comparison to Three Mile Island is a better example, the damage caused by the Three Mile Island incident has been overblown/over-hyped for years. Almost none of the radiological contamination there made it out of the facility. And of what was released, it was nearly all in gaseous form. While there are some groups who dispute this, all the detailed studies have found no evidence of high levels of radiation in the environment after the incident, making those groups' claims unlikely to be true. And of course, as the link Doctor_Jest provided tells you, the cancer risk isn't as high as most people think even after serious radiation releases like the bombs dropped on Hiroshima & Nagasaki or the Chernobyl release.

      So don't let this scare you, modern reactors are designed to contain even a core meltdown, which is what the Three Mile Island reactor did (the containment shell was not breached), and what is happening so far with the Japanese reactors. Keep in mind that one of the affected Japanese reactors was built in 1970, and reactor design has become safer since then. But even so, the containment shell is doing its job.

  • Donate (Score:2, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 13, 2011 @11:34PM (#35476620)

    Donate and help:

    USA Redcross Japan Fund (Credit Card or Amazon Payments):

    https://american.redcross.org/site/Donation2?idb=0&5052.donation=form1&df_id=5052 [redcross.org]

    Redcross Japan (Via Google Crisis Response, using Google Checkout):

    http://www.google.com/crisisresponse/japanquake2011.html [google.com]

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