News & AnalysisNewsmaker Interview: Seiji Yasumura

Japan's Electricity Woes Have Researchers Sweating

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Science  05 Aug 2011:
Vol. 333, Issue 6043, pp. 685
DOI: 10.1126/science.333.6043.685

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It's an uncomfortably hot summer in Japanese laboratories and only partly due to the heat and humidity. Power shortages following the Fukushima nuclear crisis are forcing labs to set thermostats at 28°C or forgo air conditioning, shut down elevators, and lower lighting levels. Researchers are scaling back supercomputer use, delaying experiments, and disposing of frozen samples. They have a stiff incentive: Major facilities or campuses whose average hourly electricity usage between 9 a.m. and 8 p.m. exceeds 85% of year-ago levels could be hit with $12,000-per-hour fines.