Snowfall in Kanto Causes Energy Crisis with Power Utilization Rate Exceeding 98%

published: 2022-01-25 9:30 | editor: | category: News

As the weather becomes colder, demand for electricity in Kanto, Japan has correspondingly risen. The past few days saw the reactivation of ancient thermal power generators and monthly peaks for electricity spot prices. According to data from JERA, thanks to relatively low temperatures on January 6 and the fact that PV energy generation was impaired by the snowfall, electricity utilization rate across 4-8 pm showed a red light indicating “extreme severity”, while the utilization rate reached a staggering 98% at 4 pm.

Owing to low atmospheric pressure, the Japanese regions of Kanto and Tokyo saw snow in the morning of January 6, with the JMA issuing heavy snow warnings to Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Kanagawa, and Shizuoka, among other prefectures. The advisory forecasted 5 cm of snow in 23 areas in Tokyo by noon of January 7.

A Bloomberg report released on January 5 forecasted a chance to snow in Tokyo on Thursday. The report further pointed out that the resultant demand for electricity to power heating applications led to peak prices for wholesale power across the past month-long period. According to data from JEPX, spot prices for electricity the next day skyrocketed to ¥29.78 per kWh, the highest since November 21.

Surging natural gas prices are part of reason for Japan’s rising electricity bills. In response, Japan’s METI has been hard at work ensuring the sufficiency supply of natural gas for power plants that run on this resource. Data from METI show that, as of December 23, JERA’s inventory of liquefied natural gas reached 242 tonnes, a significantly higher figure than the four-year average.

To ensure a steady supply of electricity, Japanese utility company JERA indicated on January 5 that the long-defunct Anegasaki Thermal Power Station Unit 5, located in Ichihara, Chiba, has recently resumed operation. In particular, Unit 5 runs on liquefied natural gas and has a nameplate capacity of 600 MW, which supplies enough electricity for 1.7 million households. Unit 5 will likely operate until the end of February.

Japan’s supply of electricity remains tight, with an instance of 100% power utilization rate occurring at 1 pm earlier this week. TEPCO indicates that thermal power stations have started generating additional electricity in order to ensure a stable supply. To avoid power rationing, TEPCO has for the first time ever requested support from utility suppliers including HEPCO and Tohoku this winter while also asking the general public to limit its energy use.

▲The power utilization rate of 98% is written in a red typeface that evokes a sense of emergency (Source: TEPCO)

 (Image: Top Photo Corp)

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