Eco-Living Magazine

Solar Power Comes Through for Family in Japan After Earthquake Cuts Power

Posted on the 17 March 2011 by 2ndgreenrevolution @2ndgreenrev
Solar Power Comes Through for Family in Japan After Earthquake Cuts PowerUsually it is the grid that is left to back up renewable energy when, say, the wind isn’t blowing or the sun isn’t shining. In a counterintuitive twist on that energy relationship, solar panels have proved surprisingly helpful in the wake of the 9.0 earthquake that hit off of Japan’s northeastern coast last Friday afternoon. The entire country is on a system of scheduled rolling blackouts in order to conserve electricity as power generation has been badly curtailed. Eight power plants are off line around the country, including the much covered Daiichi nuclear plant in Fukushima. Solar panels are coming in very handy to help fill in the electricity demand for one house near Mt. Myogi in Gunma prefecture (not impacted by the tsunami). These solar panels were first covered on 2nd Green Revolution in a guest post by the homeowner last September. I first heard of the earthquake last Friday morning at 3:30am EST when I woke up early to catch a 6:00am flight. On the way to the airport I was able to use mobile Skype to call the Kakegawa family in Gunma, where I lived for two years on the JET Program. Gunma is about an hour and a half northwest of Tokyo and completely landlocked, so it is not at danger of being hit by a tsunami. However, even at nearly 300 miles from the epicenter, friends in Gunma have said it was the largest earthquake they had ever experienced. I was relieved to hear that everyone was okay; everyone that they could contact, at least. Even though I got through using the internet to the landline, they could not reach their son 1 hr away in a suburb of Tokyo by cell phone. There was no damage to their new house but they didn’t have any power at the time. This is where the solar power comes in. The new house they built several years ago has solar panels on the roof. By using solar power, they were able to produce (on site and for free) some of their lost electricity supply, allowing them to maintain some semblance of normal life. The Kakegawa family was expecting to save money on electricity bills over time with their investment in solar energy. They were not thinking that during the aftermath of one of the largest earthquakes ever recorded in Japan, they would supply crucial electricity when the grid was down. Ring up one in the plus column for solar. [Image by author]

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