From tomorrow there will be planned three-hour power outages in Tokyo and other areas of Northern Japan such as Chiba, Yokohama, Aomori, Sapporo and Niigata. This is partly because of the additional power needed to support rescue efforts in and around Sendai, but also because of the reduced power output from power stations now that the Fukushima nuclear reactors are offline.
Yet these power outages are actually entirely unnecessary. Japan has enough electricity generating capacity, except the south-west of the country, including in and around the major cities of Osaka, Kyoto, Kobe, Hiroshima, Nagoya, Kagoshima and Hakata. However, this works on a different frequency. The north of the country’s power system, supplied by Tepco, runs on a frequency of 50 Hertz, the rest of the country, south of Yokohama, runs on a 60 hertz system. As such sharing power from the south to the north of the country is extrememely difficult, even at the best of times, which this is not.
Of course engineers may be able to set something up given time which will enable power from the south to be diverted north, but with the bulk of the country’s power engineers working to restore power to tsunami-sticken areas, there are few such engineers available. As such it is likely that power cuts, especially in the Tokyo area, will continue for some time unnecessarily.
Of course the privatisation-mad David Cameron, Nick Clegg and right-wing media in the UK is likely to want to keep things like this quiet. but it is yet another nail in the coffin of arguments for deregulation and privatisation. But I doubt that it will stop the privatisation-mad idiots now in charge of our political establishment.