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Forecast heatwave for Japan’s Tohoku to boost power use

  • Market: Coal, Electricity, Natural gas
  • 13/06/24

An unusual heatwave may hit north Japan's Tohoku region in the second half of June, which would encourage utilities in the area to maximise available thermal power units to meet expected increased electricity demand for cooling.

The Japan Meteorological Agency on 13 June published its forecast that the Tohoku area, along with south Japan's Okinawa region, will experience extremely high temperatures for this time of the year over 19-27 June with more than a 30pc probability of this occurring.

The short-term outlook follows Tohoku having already faced tighter electricity supplies this week because of hotter than normal weather and the absence of nearly 5GW of thermal power capacity, comprising 2.85GW of coal-fired and 2GW of gas-fired capacity, for maintenance checks and repairs. The reduced coal-fired capacity includes the unexpected and extended shutdown of the technical problem-affected 1GW Haramachi No.2 unit, which is expected to be off line over 21 May-29 July, according to a power plant operational status notice by the Japan Electric Power Exchange (Jepx).

Tohoku utilities lifted coal-fired generation to an average of 4.08GW during 10-12 June, up by 3pc from a week earlier, according to nationwide transmission system operator the Organisation for Cross-regional Co-ordination of Transmission Operators (Occto). Gas-fired output rose by 9pc to average 4.03GW, while oil-fired generation increased by 25pc to average 138MW during the period.

Utilisation of coal-fired and gas-fired generation units reached an average of 78pc and 65pc respectively across 10-12 June, with oil-fired units at 23pc, according to an Argus survey based on Occto output data and operational power capacity provided by Jepx.

Occto has ordered the Tepco Power Grid to supply electricity to the Tohoku Electric Power Network to avoid possible outages in the Tohoku area. Tohoku plans to secure up to 550MW for 3.30-5pm and 500MW for 5-8pm Japan time on 13 June. This followed Occto's similar order to Tepco to send to Tohoku up to 300MW for 6-7pm on 11 June and 300MW for 5.30-7pm on 12 June.

The power reserve level in the Tohoku area was 2.82pc for 5.30-6pm on 13 June, below a minimum 3pc level necessary for any emergencies such as a spike in peak power demand and an unexpected shutdown of power plants.


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