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Citizens, local gov'ts target vending machines for energy saving.

TOKYO, May 25 Kyodo

Environmental groups and local governments have begun taking actions to reduce the number of beverage vending machines in Tokyo and its vicinity as a means of energy saving before power shortages expected for this summer.

Ten nongovernmental organizations have launched a campaign calling for the reduction, while Tokyo and three neighboring prefectures are calling on the central government to make legal revisions to enable restriction of such machines' operation hours.

''There are just too many vending machines now, so we hope people join us to rethink if they're truly necessary,'' said Keiko Shiraishi, who serves as the secretariat for the NGO campaign.

Japan has about 5.2 million vending machines nationwide, half of them for beverages, according to the Japan Vending Machine Manufacturers Association.

Industries and households in Tokyo and other service areas of Tokyo Electric Power Co. now face the urgent need to conserve energy this summer, as the utility's supply capacity was damaged due mainly to the nuclear crisis at its Fukushima Daiichi plant in Fukushima Prefecture.

As the country struggles to find ways to cope with the anticipated shortages during the summer when demand is likely to go up, the advocates say reducing the number of machines is a sensible way to cut energy consumption.

Tokyo Gov. Shintaro Ishihara criticized the ubiquity of vending machines during a press conference in April.

''Japan is the only country in the world bristled with so many vending machines. The citizens will benefit more if we stop operation of the machines instead of industrial plants to save energy,'' he said.

The Tokyo metropolitan government has turned off power of the automatic dispensers in its main building following the March 11 quake and tsunami.

Currently, the maximum power use of around 870,000 beverage vending machines in TEPCO's service area is about 260,000 kilowatts, according to the Japan Soft Drink Association. The amount is equivalent to nearly 0.5 percent of the utility's maximum supply capacity target of 55 million kW in fiscal 2011.

The beverage industry has not ignored the country's pressing need for energy conservation.

An industry group for beverage vending machines is planning a 25 percent reduction in summertime electricity use by member companies' vending machines in service areas of Tokyo by stopping operation of some machines and turning off the refrigerating functions during parts of the day.

Between 2005 and 2009, the total energy consumption of vending machines decreased by 27.5 percent through measures such as introduction of partial cooling systems, according to the Japan Softdrink Vending Machine Council.

Even then, the amount of energy used to power one beverage vending machine for a year in 2009 was around 1,700 kilowatt hours, which is about 35 percent of what an average household consumes a year (4,700 kWh in fiscal year 2008, according to Energy Conservation Center, Japan).

The anti-vending machine campaign, organized by FoE Japan, the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies, Greenpeace and seven others, has called on consumers to stop the use of vending machines, and municipalities to remove those least in need as well as create proposals for rules on setting up vending machines.

Ishihara and the neighboring governors of Chiba, Saitama and Kanagawa submitted requests to the central government in April that include revision of the law to enable application on vending machines for legal curbs on power consumption based on the Electricity Business Law and administrative directives on restriction of the machines' operating hours.
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Publication:Japan Energy Scan
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:May 31, 2011
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