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Japan Striving For Energy Efficiency

Zonk posted more than 9 years ago | from the more-power,-cap'n dept.

Power 540

diamond writes "The NYT has an article on how Japan is squeezing to get the most out of the costly fuel. 'The government recently introduced a national campaign, urging the Japanese to replace their older appliances and buy hybrid vehicles, all part of a patriotic effort to save energy and fight global warming.'"

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New trend? (5, Interesting)

teh moges (875080) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728578)

Hopefully this starts a global trend

Re:New trend? (2, Insightful)

mas5353 (870037) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728593)

You want a new global trend? Try this one [slashdot.org] .

Re:New trend? (1)

Tim C (15259) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728609)

That's hardly a new trend, we've been causing that sort of thing for centruies...

Re:New trend? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728608)

Unless there are cartoon heros, and Engrish to follow the Japanese never set trends (Kyoto protocol...) Ill have to take a look see for one of these while Im here....

Re:New trend? (5, Funny)

TorKlingberg (599697) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728688)

Nah, saving energy is unamerican.

Re:New trend? (3, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728700)

Because disposing of old appliances and manufacturing new ones saves energy and is good for the environment. . .if you make appliances.

A cynic who looked at the whole thing closely, beginning to end, might just come the conclusion that the whole thing smacks at least as much of trying to get consumers out spending as it does "saving energy."

Hey everybody, get in the car. We're going to drive to the mall shop for Gaia!

KFG

Run out of energy? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728804)

How the hell can we "run out of energy" anytime within the next few hundred thousand millenia??

Look at the total energy of the solar system.
We lack the greed and capability of growing fast enough to exploit even one hundredth of one thousandth of a percent of the sun's energy output.

Heck just the earth.. The earth's core is a sphere of lava thousands of miles thick and damn hot. Thats why one volcanic eruption alone can power the whole US for months.

I can undertand wanting to prevent global warming .. but paranoia of running out of energy ?? A few liters of sea water will contain more energy than we know what to do with (once we have mastered fusion power).

In the long term once we build more power plants .. we'll be able to reverse global warming by CO2 recapture. Why not improve nations economies through industrialization so that they can have the wealth to fix the environmental issues ??

Seems like people want to force others in developing countries to starve and die (not to mention take away the human right to reproduction) because of misguided and hateful paranoia.

Farm subsidies are murdering africans (1, Offtopic)

backslashdot (95548) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728869)

Subsidized farming and protectionism is murdering Africans and farmers in developing nations. These farmers cannot sell their products due to developed nations subsidizing farms in Europe, the US, and Japan.

Also, by forcing developing nations to reduce their energy usage .. they are preventing affordable irrigation technology from being utilized. Even desert land can be irrigated by desalinated sea water. This method can result in a lush green Sahara (instead of the desert of today). This is technology we have today .. Israel supplies 30% of the Negev's agricultrual water from salty sources.

Africa needs to be allowed to industrialize. And yes, this includes allowing African countries to have fusion power plants.

Also .. with hydroponics .. food can be created in factories (skyscrapers so land use is maximized). After all, food is just energy stored in a tasty format the body can absorb).

Re:New trend? (1)

Donny Smith (567043) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728814)

How is that interesting?

From TFA:
>part of a patriotic effort to save energy and fight global warming.

The problem is that Japan won't be able to meet their obligations from the Kyoto Agreement.

Re:New trend? (2, Interesting)

ThePromenader (878501) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728857)

My wife had told me that her parents (living in Tokyo) "had to" change their car "because it was too old" - though it was of a recent model - with this articl I understand why. My wife confirmed this connection when she forwarded my question about it to her parents. Not only are they "pushing" for people to use newer "low energy" products, they are making it illegal for them to needlessly waste energy.

Bravo, Japan. Brilliant.

Woah! (4, Insightful)

Randy Wang (700248) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728583)

Hey! Maybe they'll make up for Australia and the USA not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol!

Or not. You never know.

It's extremely impressive, though, that they could manage to triple the output of their industrial sector for the same energy consumption - makes me feel guilty about doing nothing at all about climate change in my own home.

Hooray for energy saving (4, Insightful)

jesterzog (189797) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728686)

Maybe they'll make up for Australia and the USA not ratifying the Kyoto Protocol!

Whatever happens with Kyoto, I think it's great to see a few governments here and there finally leading by example, and getting involved in encouraging and providing incentives for saving energy. Hopefully it'll get some power saving technologies and industries much more established than they were before, and some people might actually begin to realise that there are more benefits to being efficient than possibly reducing the effects that power generation might have on the environment. Some of it may even carry over into countries that initially didn't sign on to Kyoto.

In New Zealand, where I am, finding ways to save energy has almost become a necessity, albeit one that the general population is noticing very slowly. (The main theme at the moment is everyone wanting to build more power stations, but nobody wanting them in their back yard.) Call it lack of planning if you like, but the power situation here is at the state where we're presently on the edge of getting brown-outs.

The geographic isolation makes it necessary to be entirely self-reliant with power generation, and saving energy becomes a definite alternative to generating more. (Not all the time, but certainly much of the time.) Being someone who's quite enthusiastic about reducing light pollution, it's helpful to finally have some government bodies to deal with whose actual purpose revolves around finding new ways to save energy, such as this one [eeca.govt.nz] .

My understanding, from having spoken to people there, is that the US Federal government is comparably hopeless at implementing energy efficiency schemes, for whatever reason. (That'd mean less jobs for all those americans in the power generation industry, right?) Apparently it's a much healthier economy when a few billions of dollars extra are circulating, even if it is for energy that's not actually necessary... but whatever.

If you happen to have an interest in energy efficiency, though, I've heard that state governments and more local authorities in general are often a lot more receptive about promoting it. I presume that it's probably much easier in states that buy more energy from neighbouring states than they sell. eg. Calgary (okay, that's Canada but it's in the same direction as the US from here) recently went through a programme [calgary.ca] of replacing every one of their street lights. It's expected to pay off entirely within six to seven years, through operating costs of the lights alone.

Re:Woah! (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728709)

If they care so much about the environment why do they still kill whales which are an endangered species?

eat willy (1)

nounderscores (246517) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728743)

Because whales are cheap and oil is dear.

Re:eat willy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728753)

They don't kill whales for oil.

Australia and Kyoto (4, Interesting)

nounderscores (246517) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728737)

FWIW, australia's state level governments (such as the Victorian Bracks government) are all imposing tough emissions controls in line with the kyoto protocol.

The reason why australia didn't ratify kyoto is because kyoto also counts all forest fires as emissions of CO2, because, well, they are emissions of CO2.

Australia has forest fires larger than engliand in the western australian forests every year. If australia ratified kyoto and got on the emissions trading scheme, australia would be economically crippled by having to buy emissions credits all the time. So Howard looked after the bottom line and refused to sign.

Now, if only we could find a way to prevent forest fires. I have a friend who is trying to get a job as a postgraduate research assistant at the Victorian Fire Prevention Center with her very good botany degree... maybe she can help.

Re:Australia and Kyoto (3, Funny)

MochaMan (30021) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728818)

Just a guess, but Canada has a bit more forest than Australia, yet ratified the Kyoto protocol. We also have a ton of forest fires. [www.cbc.ca] on the order of 25 000 square km burn per year.

That said, I will still argue for hours on end that Australia is one of the best countries on the planet in my eyes.

For the record, while I think Canada's also a pretty damn fine country, I now live in Japan where I flush my ultra-efficient Japanese toilet every day.

Re:Woah! (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728832)

Don't kid yourself. They're not out to "Save the Planet", they're out to boost their economy through increased consumer spending. Since their economy has been teetering on the brink for a long time now, it appears they now have a way to prod their tired consumers a bit more by saying "Buy more of our manufactured goods. They're more energy efficient! And you know you want to help the environment, right??!?!" The only reason governments give a shit about the environment is because it gets politicians votes, either from one side of the argument or the other. The only reason corporations give a shit about the environment is because it makes them money. The only people who truly give a shit about the environment are scientists desperately trying to convince uneducated people that we're losing something valuable, and those that listen to them.

In addition... (5, Funny)

The Slaughter (887603) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728585)

In addition to other energy conservation techniques, they've asked Godzilla to take fewer showers. That guy, like, he uses a lot of water, man.

You're so funny! (1)

micsmith (861221) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728632)

LOLz

Can I PLZ half your autograf??? PLZ!

LOLz

Re:In addition... (4, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728720)

There's a theory I've read that Gojira (Godzilla) symbolizes Japan's perception of America, on one hand rising out of the ocean and dealing out crude destruction to Japanese cities, on the other hand having a kind of elemntal fascination for them. In some movies Gojira is painted in a tragic, or even heroic light.

So, what we're talking about is more like an oportunity to sell Godzilla a more energy efficient water heater.

Encouragement? (4, Insightful)

Nakanai_de (647766) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728597)

I admit I just skimmed TFA, but what qualifies as a "national campaign?" Is it just adverts on TV, or are there tax breaks involved as well? During the Carter administration in the US, there were numerous tax breaks for individuals who did things like convert their houses to solar power. The percentage of solar powered houses (whether for electricty or water heating) in Japan greatly outpaces that of the US, but do they get tax rebates from it, or is it just regular Japanese environmentalism?

Tax increases (4, Insightful)

MarkByers (770551) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728617)

The easiest way to encourage people to use less energy is to tax energy consumption heavily.

Re:Tax increases (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728647)

You can pry my SUV from my cold dead fingers, you fucking vegan.

Re:Tax increases (5, Insightful)

TERdON (862570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728680)

He's not trying to take your SUV from you. All he suggests is charging you an arm and a leg for driving it, as it costs the rest of us our environment...

In my eyes, you certainly aren't paying the environmental costs (ie the approximated costs of restoring the destruction you've caused) of burning the fuel you use (I've seen calculations in the 2-3 per liter range - would be around $15 per gallon, I think). Even you aren't from the US as I think, but a co-european of mine, you certainly aren't paying those gas prices.

Re:Tax increases (1)

Pete (big-pete) (253496) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728797)


In my eyes, you certainly aren't paying the environmental costs (ie the approximated costs of restoring the destruction you've caused) of burning the fuel you use (I've seen calculations in the 2-3 per liter range - would be around $15 per gallon, I think). Even you aren't from the US as I think, but a co-european of mine, you certainly aren't paying those gas prices

Yup - at the moment I think the price for petrol in the UK equates to around $6/gallon.

-- Pete.

Re:Tax increases (4, Funny)

Daniel Dvorkin (106857) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728705)

You can pry my SUV from my cold dead fingers

With pleasure.

Re:Tax increases (2, Insightful)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728676)

You can push people away from the worst excesses that way and of course the poorest are the hardest hit by tax increases and often can't afford the capital expense of the more environmentally friendly solution. It also doesn't help pull people towards the greenest solutions either, you need tax reductions and exemptions for that.

Re:Tax increases (4, Insightful)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728846)

and of course the poorest are the hardest hit by tax increases

Depends on how the tax is structured. If you just put a flat tax on gasoline, yes that is unfair. But if you tax by efficiency of the vehicle, and set a zero tax level at something reasonable like a 1.5L engine, then the impact should be small,

Re:Tax increases (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728791)

Actually, an even better method is to impose excise taxes on engine displacement and/or physical vehicle size like they do in Europe and Japan. That right there will quickly encourage auto manufacturers to come up with more efficient vehicles; indeed, if you look at the Honda Fit/Jazz and Civic models the shape and engine displacement of both models are determined by Japanese and European excise tax laws.

Re:Tax increases (1)

vk2 (753291) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728884)

I can confirm that measures like this exists in India - where the first tier of 1000 units is the cheapest, the next 500 units are charged at 1.2 times the first and the remaining in excess of 1500 units is charged the maximum per unit rate. With this only consumers with more usage than the average end up paying higher prices.

Also, the govt subsides/provides grants for people willing to install solar powered utilities on their properties.

Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (2, Insightful)

TheOzz (888649) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728598)

Has anyone done research on how much fossil fuel is used to produce the electricity to charge these vehicles. How much harm is done by disposing of the batteries that are no longer of use? Where is the rest of the story?

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (5, Insightful)

October_30th (531777) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728648)

I'm sure the oil industry has already produced several reports showing that hybrid vehicles don't help in reducing pollution. Just like the tobacco industry used to publish reports showing that smoking and lung cancer are not related.

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (4, Insightful)

kfg (145172) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728770)

I am not aligned with the oil industry. I'm aligned with the electric car and bicycle industry. I have been personally promoting the idea of hybrid cars since the 1970s, although I do not currently own a car at all, because I am "anti" oil industry.

As they exist today electrics and hybrids do not help in reducing overall pollution or save energy, although they could be a great boon to cities such as New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo for local reductions. That simply means that the pollution goes where there is less of it now though.

And they're not as much of a boon as bicycles. In LA it is usually sunny and pleasantly warm; and the last time I looked up the statistics 90% of the population lived within 5 miles of work.

It takes 20 minutes to drive to work, and 15 to bicycle. Thank God for modern time saving devices that threaten our lives and effectively bankrupt us pursasing, maintaining, fueling and insuring ourselves against the damage we're going to do with them. What would we do without them?

KFG

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728868)

I do not currently own a car at all, because I am "anti" oil industry.

Flunked the driving test again did you?

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (2, Insightful)

jacksonj04 (800021) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728901)

Even though it may not reduce overall pollution, it centralises it to one power plant. It's far easier and cheaper to scrub emissions from one power plant than it is to scrub emissions from 100,000 exhausts.

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (2, Interesting)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728691)

Has anyone done research on how much fossil fuel is used to produce the electricity to charge these vehicles.

Well, that's easy. They burn gasoline. They just use it in a way that allows them to manage the energy produced in a slightly different way. So you're in effect asking if they get better mileage than an internal combustion car.

I personally have my doubts that at its current stage of development hybrid technology is an improvement, at least compared with the best that internal combustion vehicles can achieve. However it's remarkable that it can hold its own given how new it is. It isn't necessarily an immediate solution to energy efficiency or global pollution, but it is a good spot solution to the issue of localized pollution.

I think it's also a good bridge technology to a future all electric vehicle. As petroleum becomes more scarce and batteries get cheaper and better, a the experience, technology and infrastructure used to design and service hybrid vehicles may stand us in good stead.

How much harm is done by disposing of the batteries that are no longer of use?

Current hybrids, IIRC use lithium ion technology and contain no heavy metals or other hazardous materials that can't be disposed of in a municipal landfill. Some small run all-electric cars use lead acid batteries to keep costs down, which are a huge environmental issue, not only for disposal, but from the mining of the lead through every intermediate engineering process. But this is not an issue for the hybrids on the market. PbSO2 batteries are just too heavy to acheive the performance and range they need to compete.

You raise an important issue though. So far as I know, manufacturers have made no commitment to recycling the batteries. At this stage it doesn't matter; throwing away a hybrid battery pack is probably not as environmentally bad as throwing away a car transmission. And there are far fewer of them at this point.

However, if they don't start recycling batteries sooner or later, it would be too bad. I personally think that rather than selling and warrantying a battery pack, they should at some point start leasing the battery packs and refurbishing them.

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728858)

So far as I know, manufacturers have made no commitment to recycling the batteries.

Toyota certainly has. And they are NiMH, not Li Ion.

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728693)

Most of the energy is nuclear these days anyway. And if you are one of those fanatics who cribble about nuclear waste, you are outdated and probably read popular mechanics kind of magazines.


Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (2, Insightful)

sdonner (888858) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728704)

I'd be more worried about how much energy would be needed to produce a new car. I've read that this takes more energy than the car will consume in its lifetime.

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (4, Insightful)

Bazzalisk (869812) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728740)

If the car runs on ordinary petrol then 100% of its energy input comes from fossil fuels - for electricity production in Japan a significant amount comes from other sources (mostly nuclear). Add to this the fact that a large power-station has certain economies of scale allowing it to burn more efficiently than a car's internal combustion engine and it becomes aparant that this is very likely to produce some improvement - though perhaps not as large a one as might initialy be assumed.

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (1)

NickFortune (613926) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728910)

so you're saying what? that hybrid cars do help energy consumption? That they don't help energy consumption? That they might, but that we'd be better off switching to all electric cars?

I can take the point about power stations and efficiencies of scale, but I can't tell what inference you intend us to draw.

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (1)

jwdb (526327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728758)

Batteries are indeed a problem, thus the emphasis on fuel cells. Of course fuel cells are expensive and hydrogen storage technology is far from ideal, but with a bit of engineering...

As for how much fossile fuels used in the production, I expect that it's significantly less even accounting for distribution inefficiencies. A power plant generating power for a city, running constantly in its optimal working point seems to me to be significantly more efficient than the average car engine. Factor green energy into that and it just keeps getting better.

Jw

Fuel cells are a red herring (1)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728835)

Battery technology has been around for years which would allow cars to travel hundreds of thousands of miles before having to be replaced, disposed of or recycled.

In fact, Toshiba have a li-ion which charges in minutes and has negligible degradation even after thousands of charges. At around 300 miles per charge and thousands of charges we have vehicles which will travel half a million miles, a million miles before the batteries are an issue. The *batteries* are no longer the problem.

"hydrogen storage technology is far from ideal, but with a bit of engineering..."

Engineering isn't magic fairy dust, you can't just sprinkle some engineering on something and make it better. Hydrogen gas doesn't remotely have the energy density required. Liquid hydrogen has to be cooled to near absolute zero. Metal hydrides are *heavy* and stripping hydrogen off of fossil fuels or similar using a reformer drops the overall efficiency of the cell to little better than current internal combustion engines.

Fuel cells, are a red herring.

Re:Fuel cells are a red herring (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728849)

In fact, Toshiba have a li-ion which charges in minutes and has negligible degradation even after thousands of charges. At around 300 miles per charge and thousands of charges we have vehicles which will travel half a million miles, a million miles before the batteries are an issue. The *batteries* are no longer the problem.


That would be great except the batteries you talk about are exorbitantly expensive to manufacture on the type of scale and size needed for an automobile the size of a Honda Civic.

Re:Fuel cells are a red herring (1)

jwdb (526327) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728912)

You know, I'd really like to see this fast-charging battery of Toshiba's. I simply don't see how you could charge that from a standard outlet.

Here's an estimate of the problem for a laptop battery of this type:
  • 20,000 mAh, 20V
  • Assume it can be charged in 5 minutes
This means that for 5 minutes you have to maintain a current of 240 amps at 20V, a whopping 4.8KW. This is roughly equivalent to 43A at 110V or 22A at 220V.

I do not know many homes who'se circuits can handle that kind of current. Typical fuses here in Europe are 16A...

Jw

Re:Does Buying Hybrid Vehicles Really Help? (1)

SlightOverdose (689181) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728774)

I'm not an expert, but i'd presume a few big power stations would be far more efficient than a few million car engines. (Off the top of my head, the average petrol engine is less than 50% efficient)

As for the batteries- Once we get the kinks worked out of powering cars from hydrogen fuel cells this will become a non-issue.

So... (2, Funny)

c0l0 (826165) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728605)

... that means they got to trade in all their Intel x86 chips for AMD ones, right? ;)

Re:So... (1)

Randy Wang (700248) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728634)

No way, man! It's so much more efficient to have a single Pentium 4, than an AMD and an electric heater ;-)

Re:So... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728779)

No it means peole who buy Intel are not allowed to buy heaters and must instead during winter time turn the pc on.

~kalinga

and boost their economy (5, Insightful)

tota (139982) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728607)

let's not forget that,
Japan is a leading car manufacturer (especially when it comes to "green" vehicles) so this would also benefit their economy.

Re:and boost their economy (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728772)

Japan always had a lot of fuel efficient cars, thanks to the so-called Kei-class vehicles that limit engine size to 0.65 liters (it used to be 0.55 liters). Indeed, the original Japanese version of the Toyota Prius used a 0.65-liter I-4 engine, and it was only when the Prius was exported to the USA that they switched to a 1.5-liter I-4 engine and a larger battery pack.

In Japan (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728610)

Only old people use fossil fuels

Re:In Japan (0)

Rakshasa Taisab (244699) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728871)

In Japan, old people are fossil fuels.

This is not news. (4, Insightful)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728616)

After all, Japan always had to import 100% of their petroleum needs, hence the reason why they've always emphasized high energy efficiency. That's why Japan has such excellent public transportation and why Toyota embarked on that research project in the early 1990's that resulted in the groundbreaking Prius hybrid drivetrain vehicle.

Also, because of Japan's very high population density and its huge demands on water, it's also the country where much of today's water-efficient plumbing originated. After all, it was the Japanese plumbing fixture company TOTO that helped originate the concept of not only low-flush toilets, but also toilets where you can choose the amount of water to use per flush for even higher water efficiency.

Re:This is not news. (1)

MemoryDragon (544441) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728659)

It is not only japan, environmental research is big over here as well... That is one one of the fields to move over in the long run, environmental research.

Re:This is not news. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728773)

here .. you mean US. Give me a break. I am in CEE of Cornell University and every time a proposal for efficient energy source is turned down by MURI/Navy/DARPA for simple reason that they don't need it. The administration is happy filling up pockets from the oil economy. Wake up kid !!


In one sense it is news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728667)

"The honest feeling of Japanese people is, 'How can we do more?' "

The Japanese, as you point out, are already very energy efficient. They have already picked the low hanging fruit. The decision that they need to go further is a serious one. I'm thinking that they are looking at their manufacturing sector going to China and wondering what they can do to re-invent their economy. Over the long term, energy efficiency will be mandated by the disappearance of oil. They probably feel that if they can be at the bleeding edge of energy efficiency, they will have a huge advantage. If nothing else, if they can mandate the use of appliances that are made no where else, they can at least save their domestic market. ie. if they set energy efficiency standards and their manufacturers are the only ones who meet them, then their manufacturers stay in business. This is basically the same way they kept American cars out of their market. The American cars simply couldn't meet the standards and therefore couldn't be sold there.

Re:This is not news. (1)

kisak (524062) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728708)

Also, Japan is an island, very much threatened by raising sea levels and increased stormy weather pattern caused by global warming, so their government understands that the Kyoto treaty is important for Japan's (and the world's) future. Kyoto can't stop global warming, but it is a start at least, and it is time to start acting.

Re:This is not news. (2, Informative)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728739)

Actually, Japan has to confront the issue of sea levels all the time due to the fact the country sits on one of world's most geologically active areas with both earthquake and volcano dangers, which puts much of Japan's coastline at risk. Also, Japan built up quite a lot of housing on landfill out to sea, and given the unstable geology of the country, it's small wonder why sea levels are closely monitored in that country.

Re:This is not news. (1)

imag0 (605684) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728798)

Japanese plumbing fixture company TOTO that helped originate the concept of not only low-flush toilets, but also toilets where you can choose the amount of water to use per flush for even higher water efficiency...

Three settings. Poot, Flood and Tongs.

To all the American's (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728618)

So, to all you Americans reading this:

1. Put on shorts and a t-shirt, open the window and turn off your fucking air conditioning.

2. Quit pretending that you need an SUV to drive to work every day.

Re:To all the American's (1)

fbonnet (756003) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728695)

open the window and turn off your fucking air conditioning

Air conditioning increases power consumption by about 10%. Driving with open windows has about the same effect. So I'd say don't use AC unless temp exceeds 30C (about 86F), and drive with closed windows. Oh, and lose some weight, too.

Re:To all the American's (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728755)

A) Fuck off
B) How often do you get 36C+ temperatures?

Re:To all the American's (1)

Lord Pillage (815466) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728860)

How often do equatorial countries get 36C+ temperatures. Stop pretending that you need air conditioners to live. You may say they're poor so they can't afford them. They seem to be not dying from the heat just fine to me. Maybe if you decreased the smog in your city by biking to work you wouldn't have this problem.

Re:To all the American's (2, Informative)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728760)

I remember reading some research done by Audi in the late 1970's that showed it's actually more fuel efficient to run the air conditioner than to open the window of your car if you drive faster than 70 km/h (43.5 mph). That's because open windows on a car cause considerable aerodynamic drag at high speeds, which can severely cut into fuel efficiency. Besides, today's automotive air conditioners are far more efficient in design, so they impose far less a drag on the engine than in the past.

Re:To all the American's (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728845)

Completely random fact, but the TV show Mythbusters tested this and found that (at around 55mph) open windows is .7mpg more efficient.

Government in bed with manufacturers again? (4, Interesting)

Gurezaemon (663755) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728619)

I can't open the article (link down?), but I would not be surprised if this is yet another shady deal between the Japanese government and major manufacturers to keep people buying new products.

The compulsory registration fees already make it expensive enough to run a car here, and suspect this is more of the same - "keep people purchasing, and keep the economy afloat." After all, it has worked for the last 50 years here.

Go Japan! (4, Insightful)

hey! (33014) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728626)

As a geek, I love clever solutions. Japan has a great track record at applying technology to day to day problems. But a lot of Japan's creative energy has gone into miniaturization, which makes sense for a gregarious people who also happen to live on an island. But there's only so far you can go with that.Also, for us Americans, diminishing returns with diminishing gadget size comes a lot sooner than it does for the Japanese.

I also don't think as a country you can look to Americans to develop much in the way in efficiency technologies. Our mentality when faced with shortage is to go out and find or create some more. But efficiency is just as valid a sphere for creativity as production, and it works just as well I think; better in some scenarios.

Huh? Where? (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728640)

I live in Japan and I haven't seen any national campaign. Besides, it's not like anyone keeps anything for more than 2 years here anyway. People are already replacing their old stuff with new stuff too frequently. As much as Japan loves to say how energy efficient they are, I have to wonder what all this facination with new products ends up costing energy-wise.

And it's not like the newer products have any reason to exist sometimes. I just got done fighting with my oven for an hour because my idea of an oven (a box that gets hot into which you put raw food and remove it when it's cooked) is very different from what the Toshiba marketing department came up with (a box with a million digital buttons on the front that ultimately control a big heating coil and a frickin' timer--but does so in the most circuitous and bizarre manner possible, so you know it's advanced).

Re:Huh? Where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728754)

Are you blind, stupid, or both? To begin obtaining a clue, go to your local friendly electronics store such as Yodobashi and ask them about the incredible discounts they're offering this summer on super efficient air conditioners (GOVERNMENT SUBSIDIZED). Or go call Tokyo Denryoku and ask them about the campaign they've been doing for the past few years on encouraging people to use LESS energy (imagine that, from the nation's largest electricity supplier!)

Re:Huh? Where? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728787)

my oven is older than i am and probably eats 10x more energy than yours, thats why i never use it. who needs an oven except that old wich in Hansel and Gretel?..

Re:Huh? Where? (3, Informative)

Bushcat (615449) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728792)

Noticed when you buy something now you can choose whether to pay the recycling tax now, or wait until the end-of-life in the hope it will be cheaper then? PET bottles in our area have to be returned to convenience stores and can't go in our trash. We also have to sort our trash into into abotu 6 categories. A fried down south has to sort into 12 categories. The ubiquitous water pot now uses up to 70% less electricity than models 3 years ago. All white goods have to carry efficiency ratings. 30% of the flat surface of new buildings must be grassed, including the roof. There's less wrapping on gifts at department stores now. Thermostats in government offices have been increased from 25 to 28 or 29 C for the summer. Government employees are being encouraged to stop wearing jackets and ties from June to September. Trucks and buses are encouraged not to idle when stationary. I dunno, maybe you don't watch Japanese TV.

1-liter houses in Germany? Bah. (4, Informative)

TERdON (862570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728651)

In Sweden, experimental 0-liter houses (without heating at all except inhabitants and appliances) have already been [miljoportalen.se] built [di.se] (sorry, Swedish only). Sweden is a bit colder than Germany (have lived in both countries so I have own experience about that one). Go figure. Or maybe we Swedes just tend to be more nerdy and more often have our own Beowulf clusters as heaters. :P

Re:1-liter houses in Germany? Bah. (2, Informative)

Stalke (20083) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728855)

Interesting, a quick look at that page (sorry, I don't read swedish) found a link to the english version of the manufacturer of the "zero-electricity concept house".

Follow: http://www.ncc.se/english [www.ncc.se] and click on the ncc concept house image.

Not just w/o heating; it's w/o an electricity bill (2, Informative)

CrystalFalcon (233559) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728866)

You forgot to mention that the second article describes a house that is not without heating per se, but rather, describes a house that uses heating/cooling/electricity so efficiently that it is designed to survive off-grid (and still have today's expected standards with AC, lighting, heating etc) -- it's built to be self-sufficient energy-wise.

Quite a step forward from just "not having heating". Especially considered it's not a residential house, but a business conference center.

Re:Not just w/o heating; it's w/o an electricity b (1)

TERdON (862570) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728877)

Whadayaexpect? This IS /. Didn't really read it before posting, would you? :)

Just trading problems? (0)

Ancient_Hacker (751168) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728652)

I'm not sure hybrid cars are the answer. You use somewhat less gas, but every few years you need a new set of batteries. Batteries are typically toxic stews of lead, sulfuric acid, or nickel and cadmium. Also all the energy that went into making existing cars is wasted if the old cars get prematurely scrapped.

Methinks this is more of the traditional brainwashing to get Japanese to buy more and newer things to stimulate a sagging economy.

Re:Just trading problems? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728666)

Electric cars will definitely need new batteries after a couple years, but hybrids should last somewhat longer so it's not all that bad.

Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (5, Informative)

Colin Smith (2679) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728714)

What are you, marketing department for one of the big oil companies? Hybrids aren't perfect but you're talking out of your *arse*.

The batteries used in hybrids last as long as the vehicle, 150,000 - 200,000 miles at least and are guaranteed for at least 8 years. The batteries are NiMH, not lead acid or Nicad.

e.g.
http://pressroom.toyota.com/photo_library/display_ release.html?id=20040623 [toyota.com]

Re:Just trading problems? (3, Insightful)

FidelCatsro (861135) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728726)

Atmospheric pollution is allot harder to deal with than disposal of batteries.
they can be contained , atmospheric pollution can't.
Hell we could blast the batteries to the moon and leave them there , we cant just vacuum up the atmosphere

Re:Just trading problems? (1)

ElephanTS (624421) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728838)

Yes I think that's a lot of it. However, no-one has mentioned that Japan has no natural fossil fuel resources and their governemnt are fully aware of the impending peak oil crisis. They could well end up at war with China over access rights or something like that. This is just a small step compared with what will actually have to happen.

Re:Just trading problems? (1)

fbonnet (756003) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728848)

I'm not sure hybrid cars are the answer. You use somewhat less gas, but every few years you need a new set of batteries

If your question is about environmentally friendly car, your remark is pertinent. However the question is about energy savings and the associated impact on global warming. AFAIK batteries have no impact on global warming, and if any, it should be infinitesimal compared to the amount of CO2 emissions saved during a hybrid car batteries' lifetime. And batteries MAY be properly disposed, which is not the case for CO2.

Where are them advanced cars? (1)

e-nordstrom.com (860543) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728657)

With all the technological advances in the world, when will they (any country) ever be able to mass-produce energy and environment saving cars!

Japanese geeks are leading the effort.. (2, Funny)

Exluddite (851324) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728679)

By underclocking their computers in order to save electricity and slow global warming.

Interesting fact from TFA (3, Interesting)

antifoidulus (807088) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728715)

Is that China uses 11.5x the energy of Japan for the same industrial output. (I'm assuming that means equal in $). Are factories in China that much less efficient than their Japanese counterparts? Or is it the type of manufacturing currently done in China is in general more energy hungry than the manufacturing done in Japan?

Re:Interesting fact from TFA (2, Informative)

the eric conspiracy (20178) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728822)

Are factories in China that much less efficient than their Japanese counterparts?

Yes. The low cost of labor makes it economically unattractive to invest in capital equipment.

Re:Interesting fact from TFA (1)

AntoniusBlock1981 (888965) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728898)

Assuming that GDP correlates strongly to manufacturing output, China's having a GDP of roughly 1/5 of Japan's must mean that they use over 2x the energy! (Check my math, I'm drunk)

made in Japan :) (2, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728735)

-Unbelievable that this little piece of junk could be such a big problem. NO wonder this circuit failed. It says, 'Made in Japan'.

-What do you mean, Doc? All the best stuff is made in Japan.

-Unbelievable.

Canada (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728745)

... tried the same thing with the "One-Tonne-Challenge" http://www.climatechange.gc.ca/onetonne/english/in dex.asp [climatechange.gc.ca] . The results? A lot of angry fatties.

An easy way to save a lot of energy (1)

DrXym (126579) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728782)

By law remove the "soft" standby switches on appliances that have no earthly reason to spend most of their lives consuming power while doing nothing. E.g. TV sets, washing machines, DVD players.


In conjunction with that slap a heavy tax on offices for night time use of power to force them to force their employees to turn off all non-essential equipment like desktop computers, monitors, lights etc. when no one is there to use them.

Re:An easy way to save a lot of energy (1)

MtViewGuy (197597) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728896)

Actually, the computer industry has already made strides saving energy by doing two things:

1. Mandating the use of VESA DDC-2 power saving techniques that automatically switches a CRT monitor into low-power saving and near-zero power use "OFF" modes. People forget CRT monitors, especially the larger screen sizes, can use hundreds of watts of power.

2. Switching everyone to LCD displays, which uses a quarter to a third of the power of CRT displays. These also benefit for VESA DDC-2 power saving techniques.

It's real (3, Informative)

mattr (78516) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728813)

It's real. Just about all major Japanese firms are taking serious steps to reduce environmental impact and also to comply with personal information protection act, all the way down to rewriting their articles of incorporation. The former is part due to the government and part due to pr benefits. The government is serious about it mainly I would expect because their claim to fame on the global stage, i.e. the proof they are fit to get a permanent seat on the security council, is their ability to lead Asia and be a diplomatic power.. the result of the Kyoto accord however is that it is very hard to live up to their promise. As it happens the Chairman of Toyota is also the head of the federal industry organization, and is located in Nagoya which is where the World Expo is currently running, neither of which hurt. Not versed in what other incentives may be provided though. Environmental programs are extremely visible in all parts of Japanese companies now, including product R&D, sales, advertising, etc. For example there is an air conditioner out now (EcoCute) that uses carbon dioxide as a refrigerant, and uses a heat pump to pull heat from the air and use only nighttime electricity for a 300% efficiency gain IIRC.

Article forgot to mention that (1)

joeflies (529536) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728817)

Japan's air conditioning costs (in Tokyo at least) is partly due to the overconstruction of skyscrapers. The density of the skyscrapers prevents airflow from the ocean from ever reaching the central part of the city, and although I forgot the statistic, there's been a very large rise in the average temperature over the last 50 years after Tokyo was rebuilt.



So it's not just about throwing away a car for a more efficient one. More efficient city planning would have prevented rising temp costs. But the Japanese culture is very heavily oriented to the business suit, and even on weekends, nobody wears shorts except for kids, and that's what part of the campaign is starting with first.

your hand in front of your face (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#12728841)

it's lovely how everybody thinks japan is doing this for the benefit of a clean environment. the japanese government is only playing at this angle. their economy is suffering from a 15 years recession, their people are the most thrifty (thrifty != economically sound) and they see a way to get a couple misers to cough up some cash for philanthropic ideals.

these technologies can reduce the amount of energy consumed, and given how most driving in japan is equivalent to sitting in traffic, a hybrid car is going to save a ton of gas, given that their better MPG is when they're idling.

so, i hope you all keep your sunny, bears-eat-honey attitudes, but just realize, you're being afforded it by others.

Yeah right... (1)

connah (125251) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728862)

all part of a patriotic effort to save energy and fight global warming...

Yeah right...they're saving energy so they can drill to the center of the earth.

And Japan will suceed (3, Insightful)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728870)

> The government recently introduced a national campaign, urging the Japanese to replace their older appliances and buy hybrid vehicles, all part of a patriotic effort to save energy and fight global warming

And Japan will succeed. Meanwhile, here in America, our government and big bisiness seem to be each others' ally as their policies still encourage heavy dependence on foreign oil and the use of fuel-inefficient vehicles! No wonder the best selling cars are Japanese.

It seems all the so called American innovation is no where to be seen. I'd like to know in which field America is leading the world.

We fly the oldest fleet of passenger aircraft among the industrialised countries,

All our electronics are Asian imports,

We are outsourcing our industrial base to the extent that the home grown textile industry is under seige,

I hear with the present policies, almost one-half of our defense hardware will be manufactured by foreign companies by 2018!

Briliant academicians now rather to to Scandinavia than come to USA,

Our healthcare system is the worst performer in the G7, even Cuba beats us in some cases, and on and on and on.

I pitty the generations to come.

Re:And Japan will suceed (1)

$criptah (467422) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728902)

I have an advice for you. If this is that bad, if you can't take it anymore, why not move somewhere else? Why not quit your fucking day job and becoming a miner in a third world country. Then I will pitty you.

Re:And Japan will suceed (2, Funny)

mtec (572168) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728906)

Wow. It really got to you losing that election.

Swift Boat bastards...

Yeah right... (1)

connah0047 (850585) | more than 9 years ago | (#12728874)

all part of a patriotic effort to save energy and fight global warming...

Yeah right...they're saving energy so they can drill to the center of the earth.
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