Energy and Venezuela’s Work Week

Note: I’m not in Venezuela; I’m in Japan. However, I found this news development particularly interesting.

Energy crises can have weird consequences. Recently, Venezuela’s government reduced its governmental work week to two days in order to save energy and avert energy shortages. The short Reuters article about it (linked here) is an interesting read.

It’s interesting to observe the (unconventional) energy-saving approaches the Venezuelan government has taken. Besides reducing the public sector work week, the government also did an impromptu “daylight savings,” shifting the clocks by half an hour so the sun shines a little later into the day (saving on energy for lighting). The government also ordered malls to have their own electricity generators (which isn’t as much about reducing energy usage as much as it’s about shifting strain away from the main electricity infrastructure). One can argue about the efficacy of these approaches, but I won’t get into that discussion here.

This crisis is also an important reminder of how inextricable energy and water issues are. Venezuela depends primarily on hydroelectric power from its main dam. However, drought has reduced water levels and thus the amount of electricity available in the country. Oops. Such interlinkages between energy, water, and other utilities/services provide a huge challenge (“In a crisis affecting some service, how do we keep interlinked services running?”) but also a huge opportunity (“How can we use one type of utility infrastructure to solve problems with another?”).

Dr. Kaoru Yamaguchi on Japanese Smart Grids and Communities

On April 11, I met with Dr. Kaoru Yamaguchi at the Institute of Energy and Economics Japan (IEEJ). Dr. Yamaguchi is a Senior Research Fellow and Assistant Director of IEEJ’s New and Renewable Energy & International Cooperation Unit. He also moderated a panel on the Integration of Smart Grids and Renewables at the International Smart Grid Action Network (ISGAN) Public Workshop in Yokohama last month. Dr. Yamaguchi shared some of his thoughts on Japanese Smart Grids and Smart Communities with me.

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Some Background on Japan

Hello friends, and greetings from Yokohama! I’ve been in Japan for a little over three weeks now, but in many ways it still feels like I’m barely getting started. I just got my Japan Rail Pass (which gives me unlimited travel on Japan’s major railway network), so I’m excited to travel around the country and generally “embark” on this chapter of my Watson journey.

In addition to doing some sightseeing, I’ve done some reading and conducted a few interviews during the last few weeks. I’ll start publishing some interview writeups shortly, but first, here’s some relevant background about Japan’s Smart Grids and power sector.

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