First, the ministry responsible for Japan’s energy systems, METI, warned of critical power shortages and blackout risk during this summer and winter. Then, it dialed down the alarm and proclaimed the system was fine – at least for this summer.
The conflicting messaging that started in May has since continued with METI’s reassurances, soon followed by mandates for electricity retailers to be on guard and for power generators to make sure their fuel stocks are ample.
As Tokyo prepares to host the Olympic and Paralympic Games starting later this month – an event advertised as 100% powered by renewable energy – the country cannot afford to lose face and let the capital’s power shortage spill into the open.
However, the short-term measures that Japan is taking to ensure stability in July and August could come back to bite. The initial panic over summer demand peaks may have been premature, but the reality will be only too visible come the winter months.
Good cop, bad cop
In mid-May, METI minister Kajiyama said the power supply-demand balance was “at its worst for several years.” He claimed METI would strongly push consumers to conserve electricity and announce power saving targets. If demand rose to critical levels, the government would sound the alarm.
About 10 days later, and Kajiyama’s words were washed over with a much rosier report from the ministry. …