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Japan Power

Electricity Rationing Starting Monday In Tokyo 286

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

    by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:03PM (#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.

  • by HornWumpus ( 783565 ) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:11PM (#35475330)
    It that works look for the Japanese to start doing this regularly. They have negative population growth and it's a problem.
  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:19PM (#35475362)

    I'd think everyone would just use their portable devices during the outages and then recharge the devices once power is restored, effectively shifting the load to the on-grid period.

    Even in japan with all of its cool electronic devices, mobile devices account for a tiny portion of the overall grid load.

    Think refrigerators, washer/dryers, cooking appliances, electric heating, lighting, plus all of the industrial users.

    My Android cell phone battery holds around 5 watt-hours of power (double it if you want to account for charging and other efficiency losses). My (American) refrigerator uses around 1600 watt-hours of power per day. So charging my phone uses a fraction of the power used by my refrigerator.

  • Trains (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Wolfling1 ( 1808594 ) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:36PM (#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:50hz vs 60hz (Score:5, Interesting)

    by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:37PM (#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.

  • Re:Trains (Score:5, Interesting)

    by siddesu ( 698447 ) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:42PM (#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 nido ( 102070 ) <nido56 AT yahoo DOT com> on Sunday March 13, 2011 @08:57PM (#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 []) 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.

    - []

    Here's a report from today on

    ... The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan [] is now off the coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu and the USS Tortuga [] 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 [], an amphibious ship carrying a 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is still a couple days away.

    The USS Blue Ridge [], 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 [] (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 []. Or at least do a proper study, before throwing the ship away.

  • by Troll-Under-D'Bridge ( 1782952 ) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @09:00PM (#35475592) Journal

    I don't think Japan actually refused help. The first BBC video I watched of the nuclear accident was news about the US military airlifting (not just offering) coolant to the overheating reactor. I'm pretty sure the Japanese would be more than willing to accept aid that comes with no strings attached.

    Besides, as another poster implied [], this is a story about rotating blackouts ("offered to beam their electrons"). Portable generators are at best a stop-gap measure that begs the question of where you get the fuel to power it up. More practical would be food, tents, first aid, portable toilets, used clothing, and maybe search-and-rescue robots.

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

    by leighklotz ( 192300 ) on Sunday March 13, 2011 @09:41PM (#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: []

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

  • by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Monday March 14, 2011 @01:47AM (#35476840) Journal

    When you made your post, it was already Monday in Japan. Trains had started to run more frequently on Sunday, but now the trains here (I'm in Japan at the moment) are running a much reduced schedule. The Narita Express (direct line from Tokyo to Narita airport) isn't running. Buses to the airport are sold out.

    I took a taxi to Narita and was shocked at how quiet it is here. I surmise they have canceled a lot of flights.

    Many shops are closed. Since the trains are on a very reduced schedules, people can't get to work.

    The electricity shortage is going to have a big impact on GDP if it isn't solved soon.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @01:53AM (#35476854)

    Really? Letting people die when there is another, clear cut solution isn't wrong?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 14, 2011 @02:04AM (#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.

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