Archive for the ‘Dams/hydro’ Category

North Korea encourages completion of large-scale projects to coincide with 2015 Party Foundation Day

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2014-6-12

North Korea is attempting to complete the construction of a large scale stockbreeding base and a power plant as symbols of “self-rehabilitation” by October 10, 2015 to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the foundation of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK). Adorned with these economic achievements, next year’s Party Foundation Day will seek to inspire confidence in the North Korean people and strengthen the foundation of the Kim Jong Un regime.

The Choson Sinbo, a news affiliate of the pro-North Korean General Association of Korean Residents in Japan, published an article on June 2, 2014 which introduces the Sepho County area of Kangwon Province and the current situation of construction at the stockbreeding complex, reporting that “all construction is planned to be completed by next year’s Party Foundation Day.” Sepho Tableland Construction Company, which began construction of the Sepho County stockbreeding complex toward the end of 2012, is a national company propagandized by Kim Jong Un as the “Great Plan for the Transformation of Nature.”

The construction of the North Pyongan Chongchon River Power Plant, another one of North Korea’s large scale projects, began in January 2013 and is also projected to be finished by next year’s anniversary. Secretary of the Worker’s Party of Korea Kim Ki Nam was quoted at an April 10, 2014 Pyongyang mass rally, saying, “We must magnificently complete the Chongchon River Power Plant and Sepho County Stockbreeding Base by the Party’s 70th anniversary as a proud gift to our motherland.”

The Chongchon River Power Plant and the Sepho Tableland have been chosen as the two main tasks to be completed in celebration of next year’s anniversary of the foundation of the WPK. The news outlet of the Worker’s Party, the Rodong Sinmun, pointed out in a May 11, 2014 article that the Chongchon River Power Plant will help alleviate the nation’s electricity shortage and stand as a symbol for the nation’s “self-rehabilitation spirit.”

In the past, North Korea has revealed new buildings and symbolic structures before and after major anniversaries in order to brighten the public mood; however, the Kim Jong Un regime’s decision to undertake two large-scale construction projects and finish them both by the anniversary date is worthy of attention.

North Korea is expected to raise their agricultural production goals based on the successful completion of the Sepho Tableland and Chongchon River Power Plant. In his letter to the National Conference of Agricultural Subworkteam Leaders in February 2014, Kim Jong Un stated, “From the year 2015, when we will greet the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea, [the agricultural sector] must hit higher grain production targets.”

Coinciding with the projected agricultural increase, the Choson Sinbo reported that production of livestock will also increase with the completion of the Sepho Tableland: “Annual meat production is expected to increase in stages, from five thousand tons in 2017 to ten thousand tons annually by the year 2020.” Provided that these two large-scale projects can be completed according to plan and produce successful results, it is expected that Kim Jong Un’s position within the Party will be strengthened considerably.

As much as the Sepho Tableland and Chongchon River Power Plant give confidence to the North Korean people that their food shortage problem is being solved, it is also assumed that Kim Jong Un will use the success of these projects in order to begin a legacy of his own “achievements.”

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An Updated Summary of Energy Supply and Demand in the Democratic People’s Republic Of Korea (DPRK)

Tuesday, April 15th, 2014

The Nautilus Institute has published a report on energy supply in the DPRK by David F. von Hippel and Peter Hayes. You can read it here.

Here is a small section of the paper:

Overall energy use per capita in the DPRK as of 1990 was relatively high, primarily due to inefficient use of fuels and reliance on coal. Coal is more difficult to use with high efficiency than oil products or gas. Based on our estimates, primary commercial energy[19] use in the DPRK in 1990 was approximately 70 GJ per capita, approximately three times the per capita commercial energy use in China in 1990, and somewhat over 50 percent of the 1990 per capita energy consumption in Japan (where 1990 GDP per-capita was some ten to twenty times higher than the DPRK). This sub-section provides a brief sketch of the DPRK energy sector, and some of its problems. Much more detailed reviews/estimates of energy demand and supply in the DPRK in 1990, 1996, and particularly in 2000, 2005, and 2008 through 2010, are provided in later chapters of this report.

The industrial sector is the largest consumer of all commercial fuels—particularly coal—in the DPRK. The transport sector consumes a substantial fraction of the oil products used in the country. Most transport energy use is for freight transport; the use of personal transport in the DPRK is very limited. The residential sector is a large user of coal and (in rural areas, though more recently, reportedly, in urban and peri-urban areas as well) biomass fuels. The military sector (by our estimates) consumes an important share of the refined oil products used in the country. The public/commercial and services sectors in the DPRK consume much smaller shares of fuels supplies in the DPRK than they do in industrialized countries, due primarily to the minimal development of the commercial sector in North Korea. Wood and crop wastes are used as fuels in the agricultural sector, and probably in some industrial subsectors as well.

Key energy-sector problems in the DPRK include:

*Inefficient and/or decaying infrastructure: Much of the energy-using infrastructure in the DPRK is reportedly (and visibly, to visitors to the country) antiquated and/or poorly maintained. Buildings apparently lack significant, and often any, insulation, and the heating circuits in residential and other buildings for the most part apparently cannot be controlled by residents. Industrial facilities are likewise either aging or based on outdated technology, and often (particularly in recent years) are operated at less-than-optimal capacities (from an energy-efficiency point of view).

*Suppressed and latent demand for energy services: Lack of fuels in many sectors of the DPRK economy has apparently caused demand for energy services to go unmet. Electricity outages are one obvious source of unmet demand, but there are also reports, for example, that portions of the DPRK fishing fleet have been idled for lack of diesel fuel. Residential heating is reportedly restricted in the winter (and some observers report that some public-sector and residential buildings have not received heat at all in recent years) to conserve fuel, resulting in uncomfortably cool inside temperatures.

The problem posed by suppressed and latent demand for energy services is that when and if supply constraints are removed there is likely to be a surge in energy (probably particularly electricity) use, as residents, industries, and other consumers of fuels increase their use of energy services toward desired levels. (This is a further argument, as elaborated later in this report, for making every effort to improve the efficiency of energy use in all sectors of the DPRK economy as restraints on energy supplies are reduced.)

*Lack of energy product markets: Compounding the risk of a surge in the use of energy services is the virtual lack of energy product markets in the DPRK. Without fuel pricing reforms, there will be few incentives for households and other energy users to adopt energy efficiency measures or otherwise control their fuels consumption. Recent years have seen limited attempts by the DPRK government to reform markets for energy products. Some private markets exist for local products like firewood, and some commercial fuels have in recent years reportedly been traded “unofficially” (on the black market), but for the most part, energy commodity markets in the DPRK essentially do not exist[20]. Energy consumers are also unlikely, without a massive and well-coordinated program of education about energy use and energy efficiency, to have the technical know-how to choose and make good use of energy efficiency technologies, even when and if such technologies are made available.

The DPRK’s energy sector needs are vast, and at the same time, as indicated by the only partial listing of problems many of these needs are sufficiently interconnected as to be particularly daunting to address. The DPRK’s energy sector needs include rebuilding/replacement of many of its power generation and almost all of its substation equipment, repair, replacement, and/or improvement of coal mine production equipment and safety systems, updating of oil refineries, improvement or replacement of most if its energy-using equipment, including coal-fired boilers, electric motors and drives, transport systems, and many other items, modernization of energy use throughout the country, rebuilding of the DPRK forest stocks, and a host of other needs. As one example of the interrelations of energy problems in the DPRK, renovating the DPRK’s coal mining sector is made more difficult because coal mines lack electricity due to electricity sector problems, and electricity generators in some cases have insufficient coal to supply power demand because of coal mine problems and problems with transporting coal to power plants.

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Why is the DPRK pursuing CDM carbon credits?

Saturday, November 9th, 2013

Benjamin Habib writes in the East Asia Forum:

North Korea is a curious case among Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). It is not an active member of any specific negotiating bloc and has been a sporadic attendee at UNFCCC Conference of Parties gatherings, where its delegates are generally silent participants. Why then does North Korea engage with the international climate change regime?

We do see a rhetorical commitment in reporting documentation, along with various capacity-building programs, which do have greenhouse gas mitigation as a spin-off effect. However, it is the capacity-building dimension that appears to be the primary motivation for North Korea’s UNFCCC engagement. We know that the DPRK has agricultural productivity problems independent of climate vulnerability in terms of soil infertility, land degradation and labour-intensive production in addition to its small arable land base.

North Korea’s reporting documents to the Rio Conventions (a regime made up of the UNFCCC, the UN Convention on Biological Diversity, and the UN Convention to Combat Desertification) strongly emphasise capacity-building to address these weaknesses. The documents refer to hillside land reclamation, seed propagation and selective breeding programs to produce crops with greater climate tolerance, as well as programs to improve the efficiency of pre- and post-harvest cultivation practices and soil fertility-building projects.

It is also evident that North Korea is using the UNFCCC as a vehicle to upgrade its energy sector. North Korea’s energy sector problems are well known, plagued by problems like liquid fuel shortages, bottlenecks in coal supply chains for electricity generation, and poor electricity generation and transmission infrastructure, all of which is a significant drag on the national economy.

The UNFCCC offers capacity-building opportunities for North Korea’s energy sector through the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), which is one of the key mechanisms for cooperative greenhouse gas abatement embedded within the Kyoto Protocol. The CDM was designed with the dual purpose of assisting developed states to comply with their emission reduction commitments, and assisting developing countries with sustainable development.

North Korea has six verified CDM projects which consist of developing hydropower installations in partnership with Topič Energo, a Czech company. There are further projects under consideration in the CDM verification process. Indeed, the CDM contains a number of compelling possibilities for North Korea, including opportunities for foreign direct investment and technology transfer to upgrade the North Korean energy sector.

Some suggest that North Korea is milking the CDM as a source of foreign currency revenue through the sale of carbon credits. CDM projects create certified emission reduction credits that developing country parties can sell in international carbon markets. Yet a quick appraisal of the numbers indicates why revenue potential is unlikely to be North Korea’s primary motive for CDM participation: North Korea’s CDM projects have generated just under 200,000 carbon credits, which are worth just over US$1 million at the July 2013 EU carbon market spot price of between US$5–6 per ton. This is clearly not a large revenue source, though there is potential for revenues to increase as North Korea’s CDM portfolio expands.

Previous posts on the DPRK’s foray into the UN carbon market can be found here.

Read the full article here:
North Korea’s surprising status in the international climate change regime
East Asia Forum
Benjamin Habib
2013-11-9

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Foundations of Energy Security for the DPRK: 1990-2009

Tuesday, December 18th, 2012

The Nautilus Institute has put together an amazing research paper on the DPRK’s energy sector. I cannot understate the value of the quality/quantity of facts/figures/tables in this research.

You can download the PDF here.

I have also added it to my DPRK Economic statistics Page.

Here is the introduction:

Energy demand and supply in general—and, arguably, demand for and supply of electricity in particular—have played a key role in many high-profile issues involving North Korea, and have played and will play a central role in the resolution of the ongoing confrontation between North Korea and much of the international community over the North’s nuclear weapons program. Energy sector issues will continue to be a key to the resolution of the crisis, as underscored by the formation of a Working Group under the Six-Party Talks that was (and nominally, still is) devoted to the issue of energy and economic assistance to the DPRK.

The purpose of this report is to provide policy-makers and other interested parties with an overview of the demand for and supply of the various forms of energy used in the DPRK in six years during the last two decades:

  • 1990, the year before much of the DPRK’s economic and technical support from the Soviet Union was withdrawn;
  • 1996, thought by some to be one of the most meager years of the difficult economic 1990s in the DPRK; and 2000, a year that has been perceived by some observers as a period of modest economic “recovery” in the DPRK, as well as a marker of the period before the start, in late 2002, of a period of renewed political conflict between the DPRK, the United States, and it neighbors in Northeast Asia over the DPRK’s nuclear weapons development program; and
  • 2005, also a year in which observers have again noted an upward trend in some aspects of the DPRK economy, as well as the most recent year for which any published estimates on the DPRK’s energy sector and economy are available.
  • 2008, the last year in which the DPRK received heavy fuel oil from its negotiating partners in the Six-Party talks; and
  • 2009, the most recent year for which we have analyzed the DPRK’s energy sector.
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Pyongyang’s winter power supply

Friday, December 7th, 2012

huichon-power-station-2012-3-19

Pictured above: Huichon Power Station No. 2. Learn more about the power station here and here.

According to Radio Free Asia (RFA):

The power supply in the region had been significantly more consistent since the completion in April of the Huichon No. 2 Power Station—a hydroelectric plant located at a dam in Jagang province, about 175 kilometers (109 miles) northwest of the capital.

But the Pyongyang resident, who spoke to RFA on condition of anonymity during a recent trip to China, said that the dry season had rapidly depleted the dam’s water supply, hampering its rate of operation.

“The situation of Pyongyang’s electricity—which seemed okay until October—has returned to pre-dam levels,” the source said.

“I heard it is because of a lack of water during the winter.”

According to a report by the Associated Press, North Korean officials had touted the dam’s ability to provide “half of Pyongyang’s energy needs” as recently as June.

But even then, the AP reported, citing the plant’s general manager Kim Su Gil, drought had left the river above the dam too low for the power station to reach full capacity.

Select priorities

With the further lack of water during the winter dry season, the source in Pyongyang said, the dam was able to provide regular power to only a few select buildings in the capital, which included monuments to the Kim family regime and dwellings for the city’s elite.

“Only the Kim idolization facilities, apartments for Central Party officials, the [43-story] Koryo Hotel and [the new] Changjeon St. [housing development] have 24-hour electricity, while the districts where ordinary people live can only use electricity for five hours a day,” the source said.

North Korea maintains gathering places for citizens to show their allegiance to ruler Kim Jong Un, his father Kim Jong Il, who died of a heart attack in December last year, and his grandfather Kim Il Sung, the nation’s founder.

The 100,000-home development underway on Changjeon St., which former leader Kim Jong Il ordered after reportedly declaring the streets of the capital to be “pitiful” upon his return from a trip to China, and the Koryo Hotel, the second-largest operating hotel in the city, are two of Pyongyang’s few showpieces.

Electricity for ordinary residents is provided only late at night or around dawn so that people cannot use it during the evening when they really need it, the source said.

He added that people in the capital had come to see the preferential treatment for the city’s elite as “severe discrimination.”

Even in Sinuiju city—which neighbors China’s Dandong city and has traditionally enjoyed a reliable power supply due to its designation as an experimental market economy zone in North Pyongan province—ordinary residents are being limited to five hours a day of electricity, the source said.

He said an area of the city near a statue of Kim Il Sung was recently enjoying 24-hour electricity.

Read the full story here:
New Power Plant Falls Short
Radio Free Asia
Joon Ho Kim
2012-12-7

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North Korea at night (2012-9-24)

Thursday, December 6th, 2012

Eric T. passes along this amazing satellite photo of the Korean peninsula taken at night on 2012-9-24:

The photo comes from NASA. Click image to see larger version.

When I get some time (maybe this weekend) I will see if I can put names to the lights in North Korea.

Here is the text from the NASA web page:

City lights at night are a fairly reliable indicator of where people live. But this isn’t always the case, and the Korean Peninsula shows why. As of July 2012, South Korea’s population was estimated at roughly 49 million people, and North Korea’s population was estimated at about half that number. But where South Korea is gleaming with city lights, North Korea has hardly any lights at all—just a faint glimmer around Pyongyang.

On September 24, 2012, the Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) on the Suomi NPP satellite captured this nighttime view of the Korean Peninsula. This imagery is from the VIIRS “day-night band,” which detects light in a range of wavelengths from green to near-infrared and uses filtering techniques to observe signals such as gas flares, auroras, wildfires, city lights, and reflected moonlight.

The wide-area image shows the Korean Peninsula, parts of China and Japan, the Yellow Sea, and the Sea of Japan. The white inset box encloses an area showing ship lights in the Yellow Sea. Many of the ships form a line, as if assembling along a watery border.

Following the 1953 armistice ending the Korean War, per-capita income in South Korea rose to about 17 times the per-capital income level of North Korea, according to the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency. Worldwide, South Korea ranks 12th in electricity production, and 10th in electricity consumption, per 2011 estimates. North Korea ranks 71st in electricity production, and 73rd in electricity consumption, per 2009 estimates.

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DPRK registers six CDM projects with UNFCC

Monday, November 5th, 2012

I have previously written about two of the DPRK’s registered CDM projects: Hamhung Hydro Power Plant No. 1 (Registered May 16, 2012) and Kumya Hydro Power Plant (Registered July 13, 2012). I have collected all previous posts on the DPRKs efforts to join the UN’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) here.

After the painful experience of navigating the UN FCC’s CDM web page I discovered that there are four other registered CDM hydropower projects in the DPRK:

Paekdusan Songun Youth Power Station No. 2
백두산선군청년2호발전소
Registered Jul13, 2012

Pictured Above (Google Earth): The approximate location of the Paekdusan Songun Youth Power Station No. 2

The UN FCC documents on the registration of the power plant can be seen here.

Total installed capacity of the project will be 14 MW, consisting of two sets of 7 MW hydropower turbines and associated generators.

According to the UN documents, the project is expected to be put into operation on January 1, 2014.

The organizations listed on the document are the Namgang Hydropower Construction Complex and Topič Energo s.r.o. (Czech Republic)

Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 4
례성강청년4호발전소
Registered July 20, 2012

Pictured Above (Google Earth): The approximate location of the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 4.

The UN FCC documents on the registration of the power plant can be seen here.

The installed capacity of the project is 10 MW, which consists of 4 sets of generating facilities with a capacity of 2.5 MW each. The project will generate the electricity energy of 40,030 MWh and supply 38,640 MWh to the WPG in a year.

According to the UN documents, the project is expected to be put into operation on December 1, 2012. This facility was last featured on the DPRK evening news on 2012-11-8. See the footage here.

The organizations listed on the document are the Kumchon Electric Power Company  and Topič Energo s.r.o. (Czech Republic).

Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 5
례성강청년5호발전소
Registered August 22, 2012

Pictured Above (Google Earth): Construction work on the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 5.

The UN FCC documents on the registration of the power plant can be seen here.

The installed capacity of the project is 10 MW, which consists of 4 sets of generating facilities with a capacity of 2.5 MW each. The project will generate electric energy of 41,150 MWh and supply 40,616 MWh.

Organizations listed in the document include the Kangdong Hydro Power Construction Company and Topič Energo s.r.o. (Czech Republic).

According to the documents, the project is planned to be put into operation on May 1, 2012. The most recent Google Earth satellite imagery is dated Spetember 5, 2011 and the last time the project was featured on North Korean television was November 5, 2011. I am skeptical that the project was finished on time since the opening of the dam has yet to be announced publicly.

Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 3
례성강청년3호발전소
Registered October 23, 2012

Ryesonggang-power-station-no-3

Pictured Above (Google Earth): Construction work on the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 3.

The UN FCC documents on the registration of the power plant can be seen here.

The project with an installed capacity of 10 MW, 4 sets of generating facilities with a capacity of 2.5 MW
respectively. The project will generate the electricity energy of 42,800 MWh and supply the electricity of 41,310
MWh.

Organizations listed in the document include the Tosan Electric Power Company and Topič Energo s.r.o. (Czech Republic).

Though the plant is supposed to go into operation on July 1, 2012, the most recent Google Earth imagery from 2012-11-8 shows the plan remains uncompleted. The last time the plant was featured on North Korean television was 2011-6-25.

Additional information:
The DPRK applied for seven of its hydro power project to be registered with the UNFCC’s CDM program.  Five of the seven have been registered.  Those that have yet to be registered are the Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No.3, Wonsan Army-People Hydropower Project No.1.

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DPRK registers second carbon trading project: Kumya Hydro Power Plant

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

The DPRK has registered its second Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) project: The Kumya Hydro Power Plant.

Here is the official UN web page containing all of the technical information.

Here is an older Google Earth satellite image featuring the approximate location of the dam and power station (39.554552°, 127.164363°):

The Hanns Seidel Foundation (Facebook page here) visited the site and took this photo:

The dam was also featured on the North Korean evening news on 2012-9-28, however, it appears to be known domestically as the “Kumya-gang Power Station No. 2 (금야강2호발전소)”. You can see it here at the 3:36 mark:

Additional Information:
1. The DPRK’s first CDM project: Hamhung Hydro Power Plant No. 1

2. I have collected lots of information on the DPRK’s CDM efforts. You can read about them here.

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The New Huichon Power Station providing electricity to Pyongyang

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2012-10-11

Completed in April, Huichon Power Station is confirmed to be supplying electricity to the capital of Pyongyang. The No. 1 and No.2 hydro powerplants of Huichon are located on the upper reaches of Chongchon River with power generation capacity amounting to 300,000 kilowatts.

According to Choson Sinbo, Japan’s pro-North Korean news agency, Huichon Power Plant will be the main supplier of power to Pyongyang. Prior to its construction, Pyongyang Thermal Power Plant, East Pyongyang Thermal Power Plant, and Bukchang Thermal Power Plants provided electricity to the capital.

In the article, Kim, Myung-chul, DPRK official from the Ministry of Electric Power Industry stated, “Huichon Power Plant is helping the power supply of Pyongyang to a considerable extent. It is offering quality supply of electricity to the citizens.”

He also added, “In the past, power supply was unsatisfactory compared to the demand. Now, through a newly installed transmission lines, power can be supplied to the residents of Pyongyang with stable frequency and voltage.”

In recent years, the number of new apartments and other commercial and cultural facilities has drastically increased in Pyongyang and consequently, there is a growing demand for stable power supply. The news reported, ten additional small-to-medium power stations are expected to be constructed on the banks of Chongchon River.

Construction of Huichon Power Plant started in March 2009 as an initiative of Kim Jong Il, to solve the power shortage problem in Pyongyang. The plant originally began construction in 2001 but, Kim Jong Il pushed for swift completion by 2012, in time for the celebration of a strong and prosperous nation by 2012.

Kim Jong Il visited the construction site of Huichon over eight times from 2009 to 2011, and inspected Huichon as his first official activity of 2010, revealing the significance attached to the power plant.

North Koreans are branding the Huichon Power Station as a “monumental creation” and even included in the highly regarded, Arirang Mass Games program this year.

North Korea suffered from a widespread lack of electricity and has turned to hydoelectric power to supplement diminishing supplies of coal. The hydro powerplant of Huichon is expected not only solve the electricity shortage but also protect the farms and cities nearby from frequent flooding.

*Previous posts on the Huichon Power Stations here and here.

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DPRK’s first CDM project registered: Hamhung Hydro Power Plant No. 1

Thursday, August 16th, 2012

Pictured above: Chowon-ri, Jongphyong County (초원리, 정평군) on Google Earth (coordinates: 39.662431°, 127.315594°). The satellite imagery is too old to show the new dam and power station.

A valued reader notified me this morning that the DPRK’s first CDM project was registered in July: The Hamhung Hydro Power Plant No.1.

You can read more about the project on the UN web page here. As I understand it, the CER (the emissions rights) from the plant do not go directly to North Korea but to a Czech company who co-registered the project. It will become operational on January 1, 2013.

Here is KCTV footage showing the construction of the plant that aired on 2012-4-3:

 

Further information on the DPRK’s CDM efforts can be found here.

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