Japan expects to secure minimum reserve margin for stable electricity supplies this winter

The Yomiuri Shimbun
The Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry in Tokyo

The reserve margin of electricity is expected to exceed 4% across Japan this winter, surpassing the 3% minimum required for stable electricity supplies, according to a government forecast.

However, the Economy, Trade and Industry Ministry plans to ask companies and households to cooperate in conserving energy as there is still a possibility of an energy crunch.

For areas served by Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings Inc. and Tohoku Electric Power Co., the reserve margin is expected to be 4.1% in January and 4.9% in February, based on a scenario in which this winter is the coldest in a decade.

A June forecast for the reserve margin in those areas was at the 1% level.

The reserve margin is expected to be 4.8% in January for areas served by six other companies — Chubu Electric Power Co., Hokuriku Electric Power Co., Kansai Electric Power Co., Chugoku Electric Power Co., Shikoku Electric Power Co. and Kyushu Electric Power Co. — up from 1.9% in a June forecast.

The reason reserve margins are expected to increase is because of the planned restart of thermal reactors and other power plants.

However, as the ministry believes the electricity supply-demand conditions are still tight, it will call for companies and consumers to continue energy conservation efforts, following similar calls this summer.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine could cause instability in the supply of liquefied natural gas, which is used as a fuel for thermal power generation.

Given this possibility, the ministry will ask power companies to thoroughly manage and maintain their power plants to prevent shutdowns due to failures and other reasons.