Jonathon Porritt wrote to a correspondent visiting Tokyo; “I’ve been reading up a lot on the whole “Setsuden” transformation that has been imposed since Fukushima – and some of the implications of this for the Japanese way of life”.
A search revealed that Setsuden is a national movement encouraging the Japanese public to conserve electricity and adopt an energy-conserving lifestyle. The movement started in July 2011 to prevent `rolling blackouts` during the summer, following the shutdown of the Fukushima power plant and most of the others in the country – losing 30% of their power supply.
Public networks aired television advertisements about the need to save electricity and posters were put up around temples and convenience stores. Households and businesses were told to stay between 17°C(62.6°F) to 28°C(82.4 °F) to limit air conditioner usage. Companies also provided energy saving information and lectures for employees to review online.
Japan’s prime minister, Naoto Kan, made public statements about developing alternative energy sources and legislation was passed, enabling renewable power generation businesses to be started with a relatively small amount of capital and encouraging community-based enterprises in which investors fund wind-power facilities or citizen power plants operated by associations. These, together with others renting roofs for solar power will receive feed-in tariffs which aim to build a new energy future for Japan.
Conservation efforts by individuals and households were voluntary, but encouraged by the media and government. The Tokyo Electric Power company posted energy suggestions mainly stating that air conditioner use should be decreased as much as possible, that appliances should be cleaned to operate optimally, and making other standard recommendations to save electricity
Business and Corporate Sector
As of July 2011, buildings with electrical usage exceeding 500kW at any time were obliged to reduce electricity usage by 15%, while leading companies were asked to reduce usage up to 30%. These restrictions were in place for three months ending in September 2011, although some companies continue to use electricity saving methods.
- As was widely reported a year ago, a drive to conserve energy led workers in the largest banks to dress more informally and, building on this precedent, in 2011 workers were encouraged to wear more weather appropriate clothing cut down on heating and cooling costs – lighter, tie-free clothing in the summer; and heavier, warmer clothing in the winter.
- Many businesses changed their work schedules and shifted vacation days to distribute energy usage evenly across the week avoiding peak usage times on the weekdays and many Japanese car makers moved their working days to the weekend in exchange for days off during the weekday.
- Public transportation, such as bullet trains, ran slower.
- Escalators in stations were stopped and billboards were turned off when not displaying energy usage levels.
- Most display lighting and unnecessary machinery was turned off. Shops displayed large notices in their windows to assure prospective customers that they were open, despite the absence of the usual sparkling frontages.
Manufacturer and Retail
Manufacturing companies responded by designing and producing appliances and other products that are more power efficient or do not rely on electricity. Clothing companies and similar producers advertised hot patches and insulated clothing as alternatives to electric heating devices in preparation for winter weather.
Air conditioners, televisions, and other appliances produced under Panasonic’s `EcoNavi` brand have sensors to detect when the machine is idle and shut it down completely instead of being in standby mode.
Japan faced no power outages for the duration of the summer campaign; compared with 2010, energy usage during peak hours fell around 20%.
The government energy restrictions were ended in the beginning of September and no energy restrictions were needed during the summer of 2012#
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