Tokyo electricity demand does not show clear recovery

Electricity supply in the Tokyo metropolitan area in eastern Japan rose only 1.2% from a year ago in May at 21.6 billion kilowatt-hours, according to the Tokyo Electric Power Company. The amount was lower by 7.7% compared with May 2010. Supply in April was 22.1 billion kWh, up 6.1% on year but down 10.8% from the same month in 2010.

Although eastern Japan is under recovering from the severe earthquake in March 2011, current electricity demand remains lower than the same period in 2010 level. It is even lower than 2009 when post-Lehman shock economic slowdown depressed energy demand.

TEPCO says electricity demand in the Tokyo Metropolitan area during May was maximum 88% of its supply capacity, and no sign of supply shortage was seen. The company expects its electric power supply facility is likely to keep 7.7-7.9% of spare capacity in coming summer. It could maintain 4.5-4.8% of spare capacity even in the heat wave case.

TEPCO has lost 3.8 million kilowatts supply at Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant it had in the last summer, while the company has raised thermal power and hydroelectricity capacity urgently. Its total electricity supply capacity seems to add 3 million kw compared to last August.

Meanwhile, pace of recovery in electricity demand in the eastern Japan area remains slow. TEPCO has rushed to set up new gas-turbines fueled by gas oil and natural gas after the earthquake. However, its current usual supply capacity of about 40 million kw without nuclear power generation seems not enough to support steady recovery of electricity demand.

No one knows how long TEPCO has to keep shutting its nuclear power plants. On the other hand, there is no open discussion on constructing new big thermal power plants or new liquefied natural gas unloading facilities in order to replace with nuclear power. Thus growth of electricity power supply in the metropolitan area seems to be gradual for long period.
Of course, possible global recession might prevent the region's electricity demand from steady recovery.

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