Saturday, 09/12/2023 | 09:02 GMT+7
Last night’s earthquake aftershock in Japan, which is reported to have knocked out further power plants in the north-east of the country and injured at least 100 people, occurred nearly one month on from the initial rupture of its epicentre in the Pacific Ocean and has highlighted the enormity of the country’s need to rebuild and reinforce both its power structure and livelihoods.
The government of Japan’s chief Cabinet Secretary Yukio Edano has said that in the country’s reconstruction efforts following the earth-shattering earthquake and grave tsunami that hit in mid-March, it will build ‘eco-towns’ that use district heating and biomass to supply power and heating. Japan will look not only to its own technology resources and knowledge to help rebuild the country, but will also cooperate with other nations around the world that can provide expertise in the green build area, according to the country’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry.
Edano said, ‘We will create eco-towns that are fully equipped with district heating utilising plant matter and biomass from the region and cultivate features of communities that thoroughly foster public welfare. We will proceed by moving forward with the world’s most advanced reconstruction plan, with a vision of going beyond mere restoration to the previous state and instead create a truly marvelous Tohoku region and indeed a marvelous Japan.’
Japan’s trade minister has also reportedly set power-saving targets to preserve its power infrastructure, calling on energy consumers to cut consumption by one quarter. Reduced power consumption is likely to alleviate the pressure from the power utilities serving the worst affected areas of Japan, including Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO) and Tohoku Electric Power.
In the short term the country’s main power company has decided to put low carbon power generation on the back burner, however. In an effort to reconstruct the country’s power infrastructure, TEPCO is seeking to make use of electricity interchange with other power companies in neighbouring countries through interregional interchange lines, while also looking to restore coal-fired plants.
The company explicitly said it is not considering pumped storage generation to provide electricity in the interim.
The full impact of Japan’s recent disasters on its economy has only recently come to light, with damage estimated to have cost the economy between ¥16tn and ¥25tn. While capital stocks have been affected at a huge scale, supply chains in the manufacturing hubs of Tohoku and northern Kanto have taken the greatest hit. Stocks and manufacturing hubs in western and central Japan have been largely undamaged, according to the Ministry for trade.
Edano made his comments at the first Global Risks Meeting since the country was struck by an earthquake and tsunami in mid-March that is known to have led to the loss of at least 27,000 lives. The World Economic Forum-led gathering brings together a group of experts in the area of risk from both the public and private sector. More than 130 countries have provided nearly ¥70bn in donations towards aiding the country’s people and rebuilding its infrastructure.