North Korea focusing on developing wind energy


North Korea’s top energy policy is to develop wind energy in a three-stage project planned out to 2020, the country’s officials said in an Asian conference earlier this month.

They claimed they have turned to building hydraulic power stations after the construction of a light-water reactor promised by the international community was suspended.

North Korea is a participant in the Asian Energy Security Workshop sponsored by the San Francisco-based Nautilus Institute and Tsinghua University in China. This year’s meeting was in Beijing on Nov. 5-7, and papers from the conference were recently posted last week on the Nautilus Web site.

South Korea, Russia, China, Japan and Mongolia were also participants.

The paper submitted by the North Korean delegation said building up the wind energy sector is “considered a top priority for policymakers, technicians and managers” in Pyongyang.

North Korea would first construct a prototype wind farm with a 10-megawatt capacity by the year 2010, then build three main wind farms with a capacity of 100 megawatts by 2015, the paper said.

In the third stage ending in 2020, onshore and offshore wind farms would be built throughout the country, it said.

North Korea has already received outside assistance for its wind energy projects, including from Denmark, which provided wind turbines that were installed along the country’s west coast in 1986. The Nautilus Institute funded the installation of a standalone wind energy system in 1998.

The paper cited fund shortages and technological barriers in pursuing the policy, but said “these problems will be gradually solved through the correct policy of the DPRK” and cooperation with the international community.

Ri Yong-ho, an official at the Pyongyang International Information Center of New Technology and Economy, said his country turned to hydraulic power stations after work on the light-water reactor was suspended.

Under the 1994 Geneva Agreed Framework, the North was to receive two reactors financed by the international community in exchange for freezing its nuclear activities. The agreement fell through after Pyongyang was accused of hiding a secret nuclear weapons program.

“To cope with this situation, the DPRK began to increase government investment in the construction of hydraulic power stations,” Ri said in his presentation.

“Our future direction for securing energy is the technological upgrading of existing thermal power plants to increase energy conversion efficiency, further construction of hydraulic power stations to raise its proportion, and taking positive measures to develop and use renewable energy, including wind power,” he said.

But no new plants are being built for the time being, Ri said.

The official said Pyongyang was also trying organic matter energy, particularly methane gas.

“For this purpose, professional research institutions for producing methane gas were organized and set to work to continuously renew and develop the technology of gasification and introduce it to productive sites,” he said.


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