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Submission + - Tokyo Summer Blackouts a Sustainability Spotlight (

knapper_tech writes: "knapper_tech writes "TEPCO expects electrical shortages will return this summer, undoubtedly affecting supply chains and impacting a global economy still described as "recovering." While the worst of the disasters has given way to the rebuilding phase, the looming question is how to avoid blackouts this summer in Tokyo, the heart of the world's third largest economy.

One analyst's estimate, "the best-case scenario would see TEPCO boost its capacity by 12.5GW to 46.5GW, well short of peak summer demand of between 55 and 61GW." Tokyo's summer cooling climate peaks in August, so while there might not be enough time to build additional generating capacity or transmission capability, more readily implemented techniques and technologies like cool roofs or simply unplugging devices when off, require only awareness and small investments, such as a switchable power strip.

A seminar series last fall at the University of Oklahoma covered energy consumption reduction through architecture and new usage models. Among unamiliar items were virtual store aisles, which eliminated open-faced cooled shelves. Considering how something currently as niche as a vacuum insulated panel might find easy life inside a Japanese vending machine, where hot and cold beverage storage obviously complicates insulation design, it's seems to be a good time to reflect on the available quick-fixes and help the Japanese and the world recover economically. Surely there are programs similar to the one at OU, and surely there are more ways of robustly saving electricity. I will be in contact with a Hitachi overseas division regarding another energy saving project, and any quality information will be relayed to Hitachi ltd.

Furthermore, given the demonstrated capacity of the Japanese keiretsu to coordinate focused industrial efforts, robust electricity savings could lead to a clear test of whether or not sustainable technologies can affect the growth of an economy, perhaps opening up opportunities to increase energy competitiveness back home. With power consumption fresh on the mind, what are some back-burner items that perhaps should be looked at more carefully moving forward from this disaster?

Take your work seriously but never take yourself seriously; and do not take what happens either to yourself or your work seriously. -- Booth Tarkington