Japan took the last of its 50 once-vital nuclear power stations offline last Monday. But despite having one of the hottest summers on record, Japan has had no power rationing or blackouts this year. How did they do it? Put simply, the country cut back.
“Japan’s nuclear reactors have mostly been replaced by post-catastrophe efficiency gains which reduced [energy] consumption by around 15-20%,” says Kevin Meyerson, a retired American businessman and now an energy conservationist living in Japan. “For example, offices throughout Japan have replaced high-consumption lighting with newly developed-in-Japan low-power LED lights, cutting office electricity consumption up to 40%.”
Such conservation has made Japan’s vulnerable nuclear power plants redundant for the time being. Cutting energy demand by 10% across the board in Japan has eliminated the need for about 14 nuclear reactors, according to government figures.
Leading the charge to unplug are major corporations like Komatsu, the world’s second-largest construction equipment manufacturer, which has pledged to cut its energy consumption by at least 50% by 2015. They are not alone. In the wake of the Fukushima disaster, public and private conservation efforts have helped keep power demand comfortably in check.
Japan's green energy revolution