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Japan Power

Legacy From the 1800s Leaves Tokyo In the Dark 322

Posted by Soulskill
from the can-we-pin-this-on-lincoln dept.
itwbennett writes "East Japan entered its fifth day of power rationing on Friday, with no end to the planned blackouts in sight. The local electrical utility can't make up the shortfall by importing power from another region, though, because Japan lacks a national power grid, a consequence of a decision made in the late 1800s."
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Legacy From the 1800s Leaves Tokyo In the Dark

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  • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh@nOsPAm.gmail.com> on Friday March 18, 2011 @01:58PM (#35533404) Journal

    Half of Japan used 50Hz and the other side uses 60Hz. They have three conversion stations with a combined capacity of just 1GW, so power from one side can't power the other.

  • by localroger (258128) on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:06PM (#35533572) Homepage
    TV's don't sync to the power line. They convert incoming power to DC then work from that.
  • by Heian-794 (834234) on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:07PM (#35533584) Homepage

    They do, but they don't have the capacity to convert the amounts of power that the Kanto side suddenly needs. It's unfortunate that they didn't invest in more conversion capacity before this disaster, but then again, it probably would have been viewed as a waste of money, as few people could have imagined a power shortage of this scale before.

    A few years ago the government began urging offices to keep their indoor temperatures at 28 degrees C (82 F) to save energy; there are doubts as to its efficacy as the increased sweat and lethargy bring greater water usage (more laundry) and lowered productivity.

    I despised this program but could certainly endure it this year when there are so many people suffering from a lot more than an overheated working environment, but the silver lining is that when power capacity does finally get back up -- the Fukushima reactors were nearing end-of-life and new ones were already scheduled for 2013 -- regular folks might be able to work in air-conditioned offices again. After what we've been through, it sure will feel like a luxury.

  • by xleeko (551231) on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:22PM (#35533830)

    Other than poorly designed clocks, what other devices actually care about the power line frequency?

    Motors. Big motors, like the kind you find in your furnace, A/C compressor, elevators, and other places. Nobody cares about the consumer electronics because all that stuff either auto-ranges or can be manually switched. But big industrial equipment is everywhere and lasts a long time.

  • Re:I'll bet ... (Score:5, Informative)

    by adonoman (624929) on Friday March 18, 2011 @02:45PM (#35534202)
    Anywhere you need to transmit power a long distance - you get less power loss over the distance. In Canada a decent portion of our power generation is from hydroelectric dams in the north - 1000 km from the main demands for that power. We have 450,000-volt DC lines [wikipedia.org] running that distance. Any tech that makes that transmission more efficient, or reduces maintenance costs at either end would be snapped up quickly.
  • by cpu6502 (1960974) on Friday March 18, 2011 @03:05PM (#35534508)

    >>>TV's don't sync to the power line. They convert incoming power to DC then work from that.

    That is so horribly wrong. "The NTSC field refresh frequency in the black-and-white system originally exactly matched the nominal 60 Hz frequency of alternating current power used in the United States. Matching the field refresh rate to the power source avoided intermodulation (also called beating), which produces rolling bars on the screen......

    "Synchronization of the refresh rate to the power incidentally helped kinescope cameras record early live television broadcasts, as it was very simple to synchronize a film camera to capture one frame of video on each film frame by using the alternating current frequency to set the speed of the synchronous AC motor-drive camera.....

    "The actual figure of 525 lines was chosen as a consequence of the limitations of the vacuum-tube-based technologies of the day. In early TV systems, a master voltage-controlled oscillator was run at twice the horizontal line frequency, and this frequency was divided down by the number of lines used (in this case 525) to give the field frequency (60 Hz in this case). This frequency was then compared with the 60 Hz power-line frequency and any discrepancy corrected by adjusting the frequency of the master oscillator." - wiki

  • Re:Free Market (Score:5, Informative)

    by antifoidulus (807088) on Friday March 18, 2011 @03:24PM (#35534802) Homepage Journal
    However east and west Japan were still relatively independent even in the 1890s. It wasn't really until after the Russo-Japanese war that the country really started to become just that, a unified country. Humans have this odd way of thinking about countries, namely that the government/political structures and geographical boundaries of countries today are the same as they were over 100 years ago, they are often much different. Japan was very much like Germany, essentially a very loosely affiliated set of states bound by geographical, linguistic, and cultural ties but often separated by bitter political and military rivalries. I doubt that even if someone had the foresight to force both sides to use the same standards they would have had the political capital to make it a reality. That sort of political capital didn't really exist until after the Russo-Japanese war towards the end of the Meiji era.
  • by hawguy (1600213) on Friday March 18, 2011 @03:30PM (#35534880)

    The reactors at Fukushima generate over 3,000MW of power, and that's not the only plant that's offline. Maybe if you had 10 aircraft carriers, 3GW of generators and these magic MYT Engines (or at least conventional turbines) *and* some place to plug them in that would be a viable solution. Oh, and the vast majority of an aircraft carrier's steam output goes to the turbines that drive the props - how will you get that steam up above the water line to your generators? Maybe you can just jack up the back of the carrier out of the water and connect the generators to the prop shafts. Then you "only" need to find a generator that runs at prop shaft speed or a gearbox to convert the speed.

  • by jgtg32a (1173373) on Friday March 18, 2011 @03:32PM (#35534906)
    It is still spelled Giga, just pronounced jigga
  • by hcdejong (561314) <hobbes@ x m snet.nl> on Friday March 18, 2011 @04:37PM (#35535834)

    The most compact nuclear power plants around (naval units used in submarines) weigh about 1000 tons. These use highly enriched uranium, so they would be seen as a security risk.
    Containerizing this unit would mean at least 50 40-ft containers (with each container at its maximum weight), you probably need more because most containers won't reach this density. That would give something like 80 MW. Considering that a 20-ft container can hold at least a 1-MW diesel generator with its fuel supply, having a containerized nuclear reactor would seem to hold little advantage over diesel gensets.

    There's also the problem that you really want the reactor vessel and the primary coolant loop as one unit, since you can't easily disconnect these once the reactor has been active and has irradiated the primary loop.
    Now the reactor vessel alone is larger than a standard container. You'd end up with a very large and heavy undivisible central unit.

    You'd be better off leaving the reactor on a ship and just running a cable ashore. For smaller power needs, existing containerized diesel gensets are a good solution.

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