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Upgrading Japan – Major Works to Improve the Japanese Power Grid
Over a year on from the massive tsunami and earthquake combination that destroyed huge areas of coastal Japan and affected almost the entire country in some way, the country is still struggling to recover.
In April this year, just one of their 54 nuclear power plants was back up and running.
That’s not all – even before the tsunami struck, Japan was already facing electrical problems thanks to the rather inconvenient set-up of a 50-hertz AC power grid supplying Tokyo and north-eastern Japan and a 60-hertz AC grid supplying the western side of the country.
Nasa Goddard captured this satellite image of Japan less than 2 hours before the earthquake hit that wiped out most of the country’s power.
Japan is struggling to keep the country powered since the disaster – they’re producing very little energy to start with, and then facing problems getting it from one side of the country to the other.
The Japanese Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI) got together to propose a solution that would double the capacity for exchange between the two grids from 1040 to 2100 megawatts, by the year 2020.
To do this, a massive investment would be needed to add solid-state, high-voltage direct current (HVDC) converter stations that would receive electricity from one grid and convert it to a different wavelength for the grid on the other side. Complex work, and time consuming.
A Japanese hydroelectric plant – the country is committed to ‘green’ energy, but can renewable sources produce enough to power the country? Image by Kuniakil Garashi
Plus, the 2020 deadline may seem relatively close in the governmental world, but what about in the day to day life of everyday Japanese citizens. Will they be able to cope with the current electrical problems, causing power outages, for another eight years?
Fortunately, they’re also working on a more immediate solution – a massive, £200million solar power plant in the Kagoshima May!
So what does £200million get you in the solar industry? Well, as you can imagine, a fair few solar panels – the plant will be made up of a breathtaking 290,000 solar modules covering a total area the same size as 27 baseball stadiums, or 1.27 million square metres.
Despite this huge investment, the £200million plant will only power 22,000 households. It sounds a lot, but compared to the Japanese population it’s a tiny drop of water in the ocean – enough to power a 27th of the population of one local city only.
Construction on the solar plant is planned to start this July, but can even a massive project as this start to help such a flailing country, or would those millions be better off invested in re-powering their other nuclear power stations that were damaged during the earthquake and tsunami?
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