Massive Earthquake Causes Power Outage for 5 Million in Japan

September 11, 2018

By Erik Linask - Group Editorial Director

When a magnitude 6.7 earthquake hit the island of Hokkaido on Thursday, it knocked out power across the largest of Japan’s main islands, leaving more than 3 million buildings in the dark.  Shortly after 3:00 AM, the quake damaged a 1.65 gigawatt power plant that supplies more than half of the power to the region.  The plan was automatically shut down, creating an imbalance in the regional grid and causing the massive outage.

While one smaller plant was able to be brought online about 12 hours later, full restoration of power across Hokkaido could take more than a week, according to Economic Minister Hiroshige Seko, due to broken pipes, fires and other damage at the Tomato Atsuma plant.  Residents were asked to limit their power consumption to only what is absolutely necessary.  Critical infrastructure will be prioritized, including hospitals and other necessary facilities, but because feeds from the main island were also down, utilities in neighboring regions could not provide additional power.

Regardless of where your business is located – but particularly if you’re in a region with high incidents of outages from storms and other naturally occurring events – it’s important to understand the risk each outage poses to your business technology.  Even if full backup power systems are too costly to keep all technology operational during an extended outage, short-term UPS systems allow IT systems to be properly shut down to avoid lost data and damage from surges when power is restored.  Power protection systems can be designed to meet specific business needs, ensuring servers, switches and other critical infrastructure isn’t damaged.  Some can provide extended runtime, while others deliver enough backup power to safely power system down.  In both cases, one the critical element is they regulate line voltage to protect sensitive circuitry – even small surges can damage network equipment.

Random power loss can happen at any time, and businesses can ill afford operational down time beyond the power outage.  While a power protection system does require an investment, it considerably outweighs the time and cost of replacing or repairing your equipment and then getting your business up and running again.  If you are in a weather-prone region, power protection is really a no-brainer.

Edited by Erik Linask