Hot …Hot… Hot…..In Asia, the Heat Is on Japan, China & South Korea

The headlines in papers a week ago screamed it out. Power shortages and a big sweat in South Korea, Nine die from heatstroke in Japan, and Orange e alert for heat in China.  The met offices explained that a strong Pacific high pressure system was lingering and it was to blame for the extreme weather, keeping warm, stagnant air over three countries. Read More

South Korean workers sweat it out amid power crisis

Turn off air cons and take stairs, Seoul tells office staff as energy shortage hits at summer’s height

South China Morning Post (13 August  2013):

South Korea has ordered sweltering government offices to turn off their air conditioning and avoid using elevators as two power plants stopped operations and a minister warned of an imminent national energy crisis.

The timing could hardly be worse, coming in the midst of an extended heat wave, with temperatures nudging 34 degrees Celsius. One Seoul city government employee described her office as “one big dim-sum basket”.

The coal-powered Dangjin III plant, with a capacity of 500 megawatts, was taken offline yesterday by mechanical issues and will likely remain shut for a week. Technical problems also shut down the nearby Seocheon plant. Although operations resumed after an hour, the plant, also coal-fired, is working at only half its 200-megawatt capacity.

The shutdowns come amid a long disruption in South Korea’s nuclear power sector

“We are facing potentially our worst power crisis,” Trade, Industry and Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick said.

“We may have to carry out a rolling blackout … if one single power plant goes out of operation,” Yoon said, appealing to factories, households and shops to curb consumption over the next three days.

We are facing potentially our worst power crisis. We may have to carry out a rolling blackout … if one single power plant goes out of operation

Energy Minister Yoon Sang-jick

The last time the Seoul government was forced to resort to nationwide load shedding was in September 2011, when unexpectedly high demand pushed power reserves to their lowest level in decades.

The unannounced blackouts hit more than six million households and businesses and left 3,000 people trapped in elevators. The outcry forced the then-energy minister to resign.

The government fears a future power outage on a similar scale would result in massive economic losses.

National reserves of 4 gigawatts are considered the minimum necessary to guarantee a steady power supply. If they drop below 2 gigawatts, it triggers an automatic alert requiring all government offices to turn off air conditioners, lights and any non-essential devices.

In a pre-emptive move, the energy ministry ordered such measures effective immediately, even though the key reserve mark had not been breached.

Describing the situation as “extremely urgent”, the ministry also ordered government offices to turn off water coolers and staff to use staircases where possible, rather than elevators.

The ministry added it would tighten monitoring on shopping malls, which face fines for bringing indoor temperatures below 26 degrees Celsius.

A sweltering summer has resulted in a sustained energy consumption spike.

At the same time, the nuclear industry is struggling to emerge from a mini crisis that has forced the shutdown of numerous reactors, either for repair or as the result of a scandal over forged safety certificates.

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as Korean workers sweat it out amid power crisis



Japan swelters in heatwave, nine dead

Herald Sun (14 August 2013):

BROILING temperatures in Japan has seen the mercury hit a record 41C, after at least nine people died from heatstroke over the weekend.

The nation’s weather agency issued heat warnings for 38 of Japan’s 47 prefectures, telling people to keep hydrated and use their air conditioners.

Sweltering temperatures contributed to the deaths of at least nine people from heatstroke on Saturday and Sunday, Japanese officials and media reports said.

Another heatwave last month claimed at least a dozen lives.

Japan’s record temperature on Monday was registered at 1.42pm (1442 AEST) in Shimanto, a Pacific coast city on the western island of Shikoku, the Japan Meteorological Agency said.

That broke the old high of 40.9C in August 2007 registered in two central Japanese cities, the weather agency said.

Temperatures have soared above 40C for the third straight day across parts of Japan as a Pacific high-pressure system covered most of the country.

Energy costs have rocketed after Japan shut down its nuclear reactors in the wake of the Fukushima atomic crisis two years ago.

The move forced Tokyo to turn to pricey fossil-fuel alternatives to plug the gap.

In the bustling Tokyo shopping district of Ginza people were trying to guard against the scorching weather.

“I use a special deodorant. When you put it on it feels really fresh straight away. It sells everywhere in Japan,” said Takenori Omori, a 27-year-old computer specialist.

Hiroko Mimura, a 63-year-old receptionist, added: “The sun is really strong. I use gloves to avoid getting sunburn on the hands.”

Another shopper, Aya Kida, said she wouldn’t try to save electricity any longer, although the Japanese people are encouraged to do so after the 2011 earthquake and tsunami crippled the Fukushima plant, stalling the country’s nuclear power generation as a whole.

“It’s too hot. The air conditioner is on all day and all night long at home,” said the 25-year-old saleswoman.



Orange Alert maintained for S China Heat

Xinhua News (13 August 2013):

China’s top meteorological authority on Tuesday continued to warn of prolonged heat that has afflicted central and eastern China since July.

The National Meteorological Center (NMC) announced an orange alert for the heat wave on Tuesday, marking the 20th straight day such an alert has been issued. Orange represents a level-two warning in the nation’s three-tiered color-coded alert system for high temperatures.

The NMC forecast eastern regions including Zhejiang, Anhui and Jiangxi provinces, and central regions including Hubei and Hunan provinces will see a maximum temperature of 42 degrees Celsius during daytime on Tuesday.

Guizhou and Chongqing in southwest China and some spots in the north will also experience at least 35 degrees during the day, according to the NMC. But it forecast the intensity of the heat and the regions it affects will gradually dwindle over the next three days.

In contrast, rain of medium to heavy strength will continue battering northeastern regions over the next three days, with some areas expecting heavy rainstorms, the NMC forecast.

Torrential rain hit large parts of northeast China on Monday. Precipitation in Heilongjiang Province hit as high as 14 cm in some areas.

The NMC also forecast that Utor, the 11th typhoon to hit China this year, will gather more strength on its course and make landfall in coastal regions of Guangdong and Hainan provinces on Wednesday night.


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