How Japan Replaced Half Its Nuclear Capacity With Efficiency via Huffington Post


Much of the electricity savings were initially driven by a popular movement known as “Setsuden.” This movement emerged to encourage people and companies to save electricity and prevent rolling power cuts. Simple measures such as increasing temperatures in homes and offices, “thinning” lighting by removing some of the bulbs and tubes, shutting down big screens and exterior lighting — and even electric toilet seats, a Japanese peculiarity, enabled Japan to dramatically reduce power demand almost overnight (albeit at the cost of a small amount of personal comfort). In addition, to these measures the dress code in offices was eased to reduce the need for AC and both large and small companies were audited to identify savings potential.

These temporary measures have proven to have long term impact. They’ve dramatically increased the awareness of energy use and energy efficiency, with large companies running high-profile lasting programs. As a result, power consumption never rebounded despite GDP growth, as energy conscious practices became ingrained. More importantly, there is huge potential for technical measures to reduce energy usage even further — a resource that has only begun to be tapped into.What’s more surprising than Japan’s impressive energy savings is just how far off the very serious energy punditry was on the impact this would have on the nation. Aside from worrying that the sky would fall, this punditry made dire predictions about the need to replace the nuclear fleet with “cheap coal” (a myth we debunked here). Of course through a combination of common sense energy savings measures that begun as temporary behavioral changes, they’ve instead turned to permanent efficiency gains. In the process, the Japanese people, and its business community, proved the punditry wrong.


At the end of the day energy security is important, but aligning energy investments with the need to address climate is an even more pressing concern. Replacing half of the nuclear fleet with efficiency and the other half with fossils (mostly gas) is of course not enough for an advanced country like Japan. As global greenhouse gas emissions need to peak urgently, Japan must begin reducing its emissions. The easiest and most important step it can take is giving up on the illusion of the need for new coal plants. Because after all, the efficiency gains and promising developments with renewable energy show that Japan can be a leader in 21st century energy solutions.

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