Reconstruction of Infrastructure
Think about the car as an energy source
Part 1: The car as an emergency power source
The car has achieved a level of development where it is a comfortable means of transport in which you can go wherever you like and whenever you want. However, in the great earthquake that happened this time, there were cases that cars had been used as a power generator/store had happened one after another. Is it possible that the car will be embedded in the social infrastructure of the future as a new source of power? In this 3 part series, we look at the car as a source of energy.
The great earthquake disaster in Eastern Japan on the 11th of March 2011 caused great damage to the regions along the Pacific coast from Tohoku to Kanto. In the Tohoku region, there were large scale power cuts, and even in the regions which were not affected by the tsunami, there were cases where the power supply was restored only after a week. This is despite the fact that power supply infrastructure was said to be comparatively easier to restore than other essential utilities.
In the meantime, people in the affected areas suffered the travails of life without power. For example, let us take the problem of the mobile telephone.
The earthquake destroyed the fixed line telephone network, and even with the dependable mobile telephone networks, a situation where voice calls could not be made continued for a time after the earthquake. Moreover, base stations have power storage facilities to handle short power outages, but when several hours had passed after power supply was lost due to the earthquake, many base stations used up the stored power and stopped functioning. In addition, even though there were base stations which used private/mobile generators to keep running, homes which had no power could not charge their mobile telephones and were in a situation where their safety could not be confirmed.
Even fields which are normally not considered to be power dependent were affected by the blackout. And in the Tohoku region where the cold was still severe, one cannot do without heaters. But, one house after another became unable to use the heaters even though they did have lamp oil. The reason for this was that they were using oil based fan heaters as home heaters. Oil based fan heaters require electrical power to start up and turn the fan. Throughout the Tohoku region, there was barely 20kW - 30kW of power, and many people were unable to bear the cold.
In the midst of this situation, many people found their cars were extremely useful. Needless to say, the car was very useful in its original function of movement and transportation, but apparently it was also of great use since people used the accessories installed within the car to listen to the news on the radio, or watch the news on TV, and warmed themselves inside their cars. In addition to this, there were a really large number of people who said that their car was used as an emergency power source. In particular, they were able to charge their mobile phones using the cigarette socket in their cars.