7 energy-saving lessons the world can learn from Japan

Europe is grappling with an energy crisis as Russia cuts its gas supply. With its recent history of reduced energy availability, Japan can teach Europe and the world some lessons on how to optimize energy use. In March 2011, an earthquake and tsunami caused a collapse of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant. Tokyo Electric Power Co lost about 40% of its electrical capacity overnight and was reduced to scheduled power outages to save energy. Japan has thus embarked on the “setsuden” or energy saving across the country.

In the weeks and months that followed, malls turned off escalators, factories cut assembly line times and pachinko parlors, famous for their flashing lights and noisy machines, were temporarily closed. . The attitude of many Japanese at the time was “We have to do something, otherwise there will be a disaster,” recalled Koichiro Tanaka of the Institute of Energy Economics, Japan.

In May of that year, the government urged citizens and businesses in Tokyo and northern Japan to cut electricity by 15% during peak summer hours. According to the World Economic Forum (WEF), similar measures are being taken again this year in Japan as the country grapples with a tight energy supply.

As Europe braces for energy shortages from Russian gas cuts, Japan’s own energy crisis a decade ago offers survival lessons for households and businesses, like turning off the lights and taking the stairs. Here are some of the measures implemented in Japan at the time:

  1. Shopping centers have turned off their escalators
  2. The shops have turned off the lights
  3. The Environment Ministry wanted to save 25% of its energy by turning off unused printers and asking workers to bring their own drinks so they could unplug vending machines
  4. Sports have moved their night matches to the afternoon to save on lighting
  5. The government has launched a ‘Cool Biz’ campaign asking workers to dress lightly to reduce air conditioning
  6. Automakers have reorganized factory shifts to ease the load on the power grid during peak hours
  7. The Lawson chain of stores switched to using LED bulbs and added solar panels

A study conducted in three cities found that many Japanese were adopting energy-saving behaviors. According to the WEF, public opinion turned against nuclear power, and in late 2013 Japan idled its 54 nuclear reactors that had provided about a quarter of the country’s electricity, albeit a small one. many of these reactors have since been restarted.

However, to fill the energy gap, Japan has turned to fossil fuels such as liquefied natural gas (LNG), coal and oil. LNG imports from Qatar surged after the disaster, more than doubling to 15.66 million tonnes in 2012 from 2010 levels.

The EU has asked member states to reduce their gas consumption by 15% until March 2023. Italy has already mandated lowering the air conditioning in public buildings, while Spain has asked office workers to do not wear ties in order to maintain body temperature. at a lower temperature.