And with the operating rate of Japan's nuclear power plants down to 58 percent in 2008, the lowest level in 29 years according to a government survey, you know we depend a lot on oil and coal for that comfortable feeling.
Oil consumption for thermal power generation dropped by a massive 52% (Fuel oil) and 83% (Crude oil) respectively. The large drop is thought to be due both to a contraction of manufacturing activity due the recession, coupled with a very mild winter.
So lets all head to the nearest shrine or temple and pray for that particular good fortune ;)
The drop, which was bigger than many had expected, was a reminder that the economy in the world's third-biggest power consumer is in its sharpest contraction since the oil crisis in 1974, shrinking 3.2 percent in the last quarter of 2008, weakening demand for coal, LNG and oil.
China's oil demand is also down as the world's second-largest energy consumer (guess who is still No. 1) succumbed to the global economic crisis.
Remarkable (but hardly "shocking" as an energy analyst at a Japanese brokerage put it - while speaking to the almighty Reuters on condition of anonymity, you would have thought he or she would have said something more interesting for the record - "shocking"?).
We can, of course, hope that renewable energy will come to the rescue.
Instead of handing me and others a meager 12,000 yen as a "stimulous", why does this long-suffering and oh-so-green-last-year-when-Japan-was-holding-the-G8-Summit government not whole-heartedly support people (like me) who would like to do:
1) home refitting (insulation, double glass windows, upgrade A/C and water heating, etc.)
2) solar panels & other efforts to go off-grid, and feed excess generated power back to the grid)
3) vegetable gardens & small farms (for example starting local farmers markets)
Case in point: According to JA General Research Institute, there are about 5,000 direct-sales farmers market stores nationwide in Japan. Of them, about 2,000 are run by farmers' cooperatives and 3,000 by third-sector companies and other farmer groups.
"Many of the consumers started having doubts about mass production and the mass retail system," according to Masayuki Yamamoto, a researcher at the JA General Research Institute.
If you live outside of the big cities, you probably already have a lot of ideas for how you will survive the current recession. If not, think again. Next winter, around this time of the year, could possibly get pretty bad. "Shocking"? Oh, we will see about that.