July 31, 2003


"Working with Users to Mitigate Global Warming" (TEPCO)

Keywords: Newsletter 

JFS Newsletter No.11 (July 2003)

Staff writer Kazunori Kobayashi

As introduced in Volume 9 of this newsletter, Japan's total energy consumption has been on the rise over the last 30 years.

When we look at the increase by sector (industrial, non-industrial, and transport) from 1973 to 2000 (1973=100), we can spot large increases in the share of consumption in the non-industrial (207) and transport (209) sectors, particularly in household (206) and passenger transport (270) sectors. In order to meet the country's target of reducing greenhouse gases by 6 percent on 1990 levels as set out in the Kyoto Protocol, it is essential that each household and each citizen actively makes efforts to reduce emissions.

In this newsletter, we would like to introduce a unique effort to mitigate the energy consumption increase at household level, promoted by the Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), the largest electricity supplier in Japan.

With approximately 40,000 employees, TEPCO provides electricity to a population of about 43 million around the Kanto area, including Tokyo. The amount of electricity supplied amounts to roughly one third of the total for Japan. Regarding its CO2 emissions, it emits a total of 107.4 million tons per year (0.381kg per kWh sold) through generating electricity from thermal, nuclear, hydro, geo-thermal, and renewable energy.

This number, 0.381kg/kWh, is relatively low compared with that of the other industrialized nations such as the United States (0.59), Germany (0.50), and the United Kingdom (0.44), though behind Canada (0.21kg/kWh) and France (0.07kg/kWh), with a high share of hydropower and nuclear, respectively. Currently TEPCO aims to cut CO2 emissions per kWh sold by 20% based on 1990 levels, by 2010.

Starting in August 2002, TEPCO started providing information on what households can do to mitigate climate change, in its monthly electricity usage statements for customers and on the company Web site. These services are intended to inform residential users how much carbon dioxide (CO2) is released from energy consumption in daily life and to encourage them to actively take part in energy conservation and the reduction of CO2 emissions.

Specifically, the reverse side of a monthly statement indicates the amount of CO2 emissions per unit of electricity, gas, kerosene, and gasoline, so that customers can be aware of the CO2 emissions for each energy source and the total for each household every month. Also on the "Household CO2 Accounts" web page, users can automatically calculate their CO2 emissions every month by just entering how much electricity, gas, kerosene, and gasoline they have used.

A number of TEPCO employees and their families actually used the Accounts for a trial from January to April 2003, and it turned out that the emissions from their households energy consumption (average 3.34 persons) averaged about 716 kg CO2 per month. If your energy consumption was equivalent to theirs, when you type in your energy consumption on the Web site, the following message will appear:

"CO2 emissions from our household last month were 716 kg CO2, approximately equivalent to the amount of CO2 absorbed by 196 trees."

Furthermore, TEPCO provides Web pages that show your lifestyle's financial implications, probably a more direct concern for almost any family. The "CO2 Diet in Daily Life" page gives information on ways to reduce CO2 emissions at home. The "Eco Style Essence" section recommends easy-to-do measures for CO2 reduction in daily life, and "Eco Style Planning" indicates in figures the effects of the customers' efforts to reduce emissions, and how much money you can save.

There you can find a list of easy-to-do measures on such items as refrigerators, gas stoves, microwaves, rice cookers, air-conditioners, automobiles, and more. When you check the measures you are already doing and also measures you think you can continue for a year, the Web page automatically calculates not only how much CO2 emissions per month and year but al so how much expenditures will be reduced by your action. The message appears as follows:

"You are already reducing 21kg CO2 (1,460 yen [approx. U.S.$12]) through your "eco-style" actions at home. Also, by your commitment to take new actions, you will be able to reduce 1,515 kg CO2 (90,100 yen [U.S.$750]) per year. When combined, the amount of CO2 reduced is approximately equivalent to the amount of CO2 that 419 trees absorb per year. If every household in Japan follows your actions, 73.753 million tons CO2 emissions will be reduced, and this amounts to 6.6 percent of the Japanese CO2 emission in 1990."

Reading this message, we can feel that reducing greenhouse gases by 6 percent on 1990 levels may not be easy, but at the same time, it is not outside our reach if we all make the necessary commitment.

(For more detail on TEPCO's activities, please refer to the TEPCO Environmental Action Report 2002.)