Archive for the ‘Electricity’ Category

Nuke test does not deter China’s economic interests in the DPRK

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

According to Reuters:

While Beijing has not made clear whether the test would disrupt its investment plans for the Rason economic zone, an official at the zone’s joint management office told Reuters that all previously announced Chinese projects for the zone remain on track, including a power line from China to ease acute electricity shortages there.

“All the people of the management office are still here working as usual… If there is any major impact (from the nuclear test), do you think we would still be here?” he said by phone from Rason, which lies near where North Korea, China and Russia converge. “All works are proceeding as planned.”

There are about 60 Chinese and North Korean people working at the management office, and the number may grow with the launch of more projects, said the official, who declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

China and North Korea jointly set up the Rason management committee in October to handle the planning, construction and development of the zone, also known as Ranjin-Songbong, one of the country’s highest profile economic projects.

“China has normal relations with North Korea. We will conduct normal trade and economic exchanges with North Korea,” Hua Chunying, China’s foreign ministry spokeswoman, said when asked whether China would continue to work with North Korea to develop its special economic zones after the nuclear test.

Led by China’s commerce ministry, Chinese firms, including State Grid Corp, Jilin Yatai (Group) and China Railway Construction Group and other state enterprises, have indicated interest in investing in power, building materials, transport and agriculture projects in the zone.

Yatai, a Shanghai-listed cement and coal producer, signed a framework agreement last year with the North Korean government to construct a 500,000-square-metre building materials industrial park, including a cement plant, in Rason.

State Grid finished the final review of the feasibility study of the 97.8-kilometre power line early this year, but has not started construction as it has not yet won all approvals, the official and a source close to the plan said.

The planned line would cut through a Siberian tiger natural reserve, and State Grid is awaiting a green light from China’s National Development and Reform Commission and coordinating with various other authorities, the source told Reuters.

There is no timetable for the project as State Grid is unsure when it would receive government approvals, he added. State Grid was not immediately available for comment.

Jilin Yatai may delay its cement project in Rason — which is critical to the construction of other projects such as the railway there — due to “issues on the North Korean side,” said an official at Yatai’s securities office.

But the likely delay of the project was not related to the nuclear test, the official said by phone from Changchun, capital city of Northeast China’s Jilin province, which borders North Korea. He declined further comment.

In a filing with the Shanghai bourse in August, Yatai said it planned to complete the construction of its first cement plant in North Korea by September this year only if there is sufficient power capacity available.

Read the full story here:
China moves ahead with North Korea trade zone despite nuclear test
Reuters
2013-2-28

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Rason energy growth to come from China

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

China is expected to start supplying electricity to North Korea’s special economic zone in June as part of their joint development efforts there, a news report said Tuesday.

China-based Yangbian Internet Radio said the Chinese city of Hunchun, which is close to the border with the North, will make efforts to establish joint economic projects, including the electricity supply plan.

The news outlet said preparations for the plan to supply electricity to the Rason Special Economic Zone, located in the northern tip of North Korea, will be complete in June. The Chinese city also plans to build a bridge and road.

Since last year, Chinese media outlets have said the supply plan marks the first case of China’s state-run electricity agency providing electricity to a foreign nation and aims to help build up infrastructure in the North Korean special zone.

Experts said China may continue its economic cooperation projects in the North’s east coast region as they are part of the country’s efforts to secure a commercial stronghold in the East Sea despite rising tension over the North’s Dec. 12 nuclear test.

Read the full story here:
China to start electricity supply to Rason economic zone in N. Korea
Yonhap
2013-2-19

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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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North Korea Lauds Its Economic Achievements One Year After Kim Jong Il’s Death

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2012-12-14

In preparation for the first anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, North Korea is calling attention to its economic achievements.

North Korean media announced that workers in each production sector met the goals of this year to commemorate the death of Kim Jong Il.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on December 7, “To honor the oath of bloody tears made before our Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, with burning hopes to charge ahead to meet the annual People’s Economic Plan, industrial production output reached 100 percent and production of daily necessities reached 113.7 percent, as of December 5.”Specifically, the machinery industrial sector was said to have reached its annual production goal by 107 percent as of the end of November.

Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), also mentioned that a product exhibition was held from December 3rd to 6th in the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1.

In addition, KCNA reported that many hydroelectric power plants across the nation have already exceeded the annual electricity production plan. The KCNA claimed that Sodusu power plant exceeded the annual goal by 120.3 percent, while the Hochon River power plant and Jangjin River power plant reached 107.6 and 109.3 percent, respectively.

North Korean media boasted its economic development and spoke of its economic revitalization strategy. In the KCNA commentary: “We have developed our own economic revitalization strategies for economic development and devotion for this goal is deepening with time.”

North Korea’s recent announcement and actual launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is also claimed to be an essential process for North Korea’s economic development.

“Unha-3rocket carryingthe satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, was developed by North Korean scientists and engineers by its own technology, and it is a noble achievement for its scientific and technical advancement to realize the goal of economic revival,” stated Choson Sinbo, a Japan-based pro-North Korean newspaper.

Analysts see North Korea’s recent moves (that is, its stressing of economic achievements and the rocket/satellite launch) as Pyongyang’s effort to emphasize the Kim Jong Un regime’s intent to uphold the teachings of the late leader Kim Jong Il through strengthening the economy.

The year 2012 was propagated by North Korea to be the first year of its kangsong taeguk (“strong and prosperous nation”). North Korea is trying to prove to its people that, despite Kim Jong Il’s death, this effort is still continuing under the Kim Jong Un leadership.

In the December 7th article of the KCNA, annual evaluation was made of the various economic achievements. The article called the past year “a historical miracle of a new era,” and “first year of new centennial of juche.” It also stated that a “new historical miracle was created to mark the new era of strong Korea (Chosun) upholding the great teachings of General Kim Jong Il.”

The KCNA mentioned the ‘Day of the Sun’ celebrations and other various celebrations, WPK conference, Kim Jong Un’s onsite visits to military bases, completion of the Huichon Power Station, Pyongyang city park construction, and Moranbong band performances as major achievements of the year.

In addition, the new 12-year compulsory education policy, outstanding performance by North Korean athletes at the 2012 London Olympics (i.e., four gold and one bronze medal), and the commissioning of the new State Culture and SportsGuidance Commission were also mentioned as main accomplishments of the year.

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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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Cabinet meeting discusses economic performance

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

UPDATE (2012-11-1): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies issues a summary of the Cabinet meeting:

North Korean Cabinet Standing Committee Meeting Held, Results for Third Quarter People’s Economy Announced

North Korea announced the results of the people’s economy plan for the third quarter and named construction as its major accomplishment. In particular, many monumental edifices of the Songun era were built and recognized to have strengthened the material and technical foundation of its national economy.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on October 22 that such economy achievement was reported at the extended meeting for the Cabinet Standing Committee.

According to the KCNA, evaluation of the major sectors of people’s economy was made at the Cabinet meeting, commending the construction of thousands of new factories and companies.

In particular, construction of various new buildings were introduced including the new National Gift Hall, along with Pyongyang Folk Village, Rungna People’s Pleasure Ground, Rungna Dolphinarium, Sunrise Restaurant, and other modern cultural and service facilities. In addition, new buildings were built in campuses of Kim Hyong Jik University of Education and Koryo Songgyungwan University as well as other monumental edifices and major light industry factories. Such constructions are attributed to the improvement of consumer goods production and accredited to be advancing the modernization of people’s economy.

Additionally at the meeting, power and coal production was reported to have improved and production for major industrial products such as air compressors, transformers, jack hammers, coal wagons, power cables, cement and salt were also specified to have increased, contributing to the development of local industries.

Specific cases from Changsong County and Hoeryong City were presented to emphasize the improvement of local industries. The industrial production volume was claimed to have exceeded by 107 percent for the local industrial development plan for the quarter and adding strength to the modernization process for the local industries.

In the agricultural sector, considerable damage was reported for the third quarter as the North experienced floods and typhoon but asserted repair efforts for the damages took place appropriately.

The national budget income plan for the third quarter was recorded at 109.6 percent while local budget income plan was explained to have exceeded by 113.4 percent.

Following the meeting, major tasks for the economy for the fourth quarter were discussed. They included elevating the cities and counties to serve as regional bases, early response system to repair damages caused by natural disasters, and preparation to promptly carry out the 12-year compulsory education plan.

The law for the 12-year compulsory general education was recently adopted by the cabinet at the Supreme People’s Assembly meeting on September 25.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-10-22): The world was watching the most recent Supreme Peoples’ Assembly meeting for announcements of changes to the DPRK’s economic policies. However, little of substance was publicly announced.

According to Yonhap, the DPRK also held a recent cabinet meeting–date unknown. A cabinet meeting is where we would expect more serious deliberation of economic policies taking place. According to the article, however, the meeting featured rather standard agenda items (as best I can tell):

North Korea has held a cabinet meeting to discuss the country’s economic issues, a Chinese state media said Monday, as the communist regime reportedly makes efforts to reform its sickly economy.

The People’s Daily reported on its Chinese-language Web site that North Korea’s cabinet members recently gathered to review the country’s third-quarter economic performance and discuss targets to be achieved in the fourth quarter.

The meeting was presided over by North Korean Prime Minister Choi Yong-rim, the report said, citing the cabinet’s mouthpiece “Democratic (North) Korea”.

The report did not disclose when the meeting was held.

In the third quarter, North Korea saw a substantial increase on-year in its output of electricity and coal, the report said.

It also boosted production of air compressors, transformers, mining machines, wire, cement and other industrial products in the July-September.

Accordingly, the local industry has achieved an output level 7 percent higher than its original plan, while local budget revenues were 13.4 percent higher than original estimates, the Chinese newspaper said.

The North Korean cabinet members shared the view that the fourth quarter will be an important period for the regime to achieve its annual economic target for this year.

In a bid to achieve this year’s target, the country will continue to focus on producing electricity and coal, the report said.

The cabinet also agreed to fully implement universal 12-year compulsory education, promulgated at the Supreme People’s Assembly last month.

Speculation has recently risen that the secretive regime will take legal steps to start economic reforms as new leader Kim Jong-un is seen to be seeking to consolidate his power partly through fixing the broken economy.

Last month, a seminar aimed at attracting foreign investment in North Korea was held in a Beijing hotel.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea holds cabinet meeting to discuss economy
Yonhap
Kim Young-gyo
2012-10-22

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DPRK power consumption at 1970s levels

Monday, August 6th, 2012

 

Pictured above: (L-Yonhap) Estimated energy consumption in the DPRK; (R) IEA graph of DPRK energy production

Statistics Korea published information on DPRK energy consumption originally published by the International Energy Agency. I have added a link to the IEA’s DPRK data on my DPRK Economic Statistics Page.

The original data is behind a firewall (as best I can tell), so here is coverage of the report in the Daily NK:

Based on International Energy Agency (IEA) documentation, the statistics, which were made public on the 6th via Statistics Korea’s ‘North Korea Statistics Portal’, reveal that per capita electricity consumption in 2008 remained just 819kWh, substantially lower than the 919kWh recorded in 1971.

The figures are just the latest symbolic indicator of the protracted economic decline that began in the 1990s, when the national economy collapsed following the fall of the Soviet Union and the sudden demand that the majority of fuel imports be paid for in hard currency.

Rooted in the provision of low cost fuel by its larger communist neighbors, North Korean electricity consumption had risen steadily until 1991. By 1980 it had reached 1114kWh per capita, a figure that rose again over the next decade to reach 1247kWh by 1990. However, by 1995 it had declined precipitously to 912kWh, and at its nadir in 2000 per capita usage figure was just 712kWh.

This decline was subsequently arrested; however, the following seven years (including 2004 (787kWh), 2005 (817kWh), 2006 (797kWh) and 2007 (762kWh)) reflected how the country was (and remains) unable to recover to the 1990 standard, with population growth outstripping improvements in electricity generation.

In 1971, North Korea had a population of just 14.6 million, but by 2008 this was estimated to have risen to 23.9 million.

Here is coverage in Yonhap.

Read the full story here:
Economic Collapse Reflected in Scarce Electricity
Daily NK
Kim Tae Hong
2012-8-6

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North Korea presents favorable conditions to foreign investors

Monday, July 30th, 2012

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2012-7-27

The Beijing branch of the Joint Venture and Investment Committee of North Korea (JVIC), called the Choson Investment Office, announced on July 18 of various preferential conditions to foreign investors and employment conditions on its website.

The Choson Investment Office opened its doors this year and is the only overseas branch of the JVIC, in charge not only of securing foreign capital but cultural and science and technology exchanges and cooperation.

The website posted an article titled, “Problems Investors Face,” which provided useful information for foreign investors in a question and answer format.

In the article, the employment conditions for workers were included. The minimum monthly wage for workers in North Korea was set at 30 euros or about 42,000 KRW. In addition, foreign companies must pay 7 euros to each employee separately as social insurance. Overtime pay also needs to be paid and at the event of work related injuries or illness, the company is responsible for handling the situation with its board of directors.

In comparison, the minimum monthly wage for North Korean employees in the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) is 110 USD or about 125,000 KRW.

As for preferential tax policies, foreign-capital companies that are not joint venture are exempt from certain taxes including tariffs on exports and resource tax for the development of mines.

North Korea will bear the land use tax, which is 1 euro per square meter, and China and other foreign investors will have no restriction for mining the underground resources.

The income tax rate for the foreign capital companies was specified at 25 percent and business tax between 2 to 10 percent will be collected from transportation, power, commerce, trade, finance, insurance, tourism, advertisement, hotel and entertainment industries.

Power is the main concern for most foreign companies and it will be provided at 0.053 euro per 1,000 kilowatt. The DPRK’s central trade guiding organ will oversee the setting of prices of goods while the trademark rights will belong to the company.

The DPRK’s Joint Venture and Investment Committee was expanded and reorganized in July 2010 from Joint Venture and Investment Bureau, with main activities centered around Hwanggumpyong Island and Rajin-Sonbong development.

The main agents for foreign currency earnings are the cabinet, military, JVIC, and Daepung International Investment Group*. Most of the trading companies are affiliated with one of the four groups.

In March, JVIC announced through the KCNA that “As the investment environment is favorably changing, joint venture and investment contracts are increasing. Investment interests from large companies are rising especially in our abundant rare-earth and underground resources as well as building railroads, roads, and power plants.”

*IFES and Choson Exchange previously discussed the merger of JVIC and “Daephung”

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On DPRK efforts to join UN carbon market

Thursday, May 31st, 2012

UPDATE 13 (2014-11-28): The Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No.4 has been completed. According to KCNA:

New Power Station Goes Operational

Kumchon, November 27 (KCNA) — Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 4 went operational.

President Kim Il Sung indicated the orientation of building the power stations on the Ryesong River. Leader Kim Jong Il visited the construction sites several times, setting forth tasks and ways for the construction and bestowing loving care and benevolence on the builders.

Marshal Kim Jong Un appreciated the achievements of the people in North Hwanghae Province when he visited Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 1. He not only took measures for finishing the construction of Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 2 by the concerted efforts of the army and people but also led the construction of Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 4.

The completion of Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 4 is another success in implementing the behests of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il to settle the acute shortage of electricity in the North Hwanghae Province by building power stations on the Ryesong River. It also helped lay a more solid foundation for developing economy and improving the living standard of the people in the province.

The completion ceremony took place on Thursday.

Present at the ceremony were Tong Jong Ho, minister of Construction and Building-Materials Industry, Pak Thae Dok, chief secretary of the North Hwanghae Provincial Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and others.

Here is KCTV footage (7:21). Here is UNFCCC data.

UPDATE 12 (2012-12-13): Robert Winstanley-Chesters has some additional data here.

UPDATE 11 (2012-11-25): The DPRK has registered four more power plants with the UNFCCC CDM project.

1. Paekdusan Songun Youth Power Station No. 2 (백두산선군청년2호발전소)
Registered July 13, 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)

2. 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).

3. 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.

4. 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.

UPDATE 10 (2012-10-23): The DPRK has registered its second CDM project: Kumya Hydro Power Plant. (AKA Kumyagang Power Station No. 2, 금야강2호발전소)

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

Here is a Google Earth satellite image featuring the dam and power station (39.552132°, 127.156062°):

Kumya-plant-2

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

KCTV footage dated 2014-9-16 shows a completed Kumya Hydro Power Plant (AKA Kumyagang Power Station No. 2). See the footage here.

UPDATE 9 (2012-8-16): The DPRK’s first CDM project registered: Hamhung Hydro Power Plant No. 1 (AKA Hamhung Youth Power Station No. 1)

Hamhung-plant-UNFCCC-Bing

Pictured above (date unknown): On Bing Maps (coordinates: 39.648086°, 127.269219°) we can see construction is underway

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.

UPDATE 8 (2012-6-5): In addition to the seven power plants submitted for approval below, the DPRK is involved in several other “Programmes of Activities (POAs)“. You can see all the POAs by clicking here and selecting DPRK as “Host Country”.

Here is a summary:

1. Methane Utilization and Destruction Programme from Animal Waste Management System (AWMS) in DPR Korea

2. Methane Utilisation and Destruction Programme from Industrial Wastewater in DPR Korea

3. CarbonSoft Open Source PoA, LED Lighting Distribution: Emerging Markets

4. Coal Mine Methane Utilisation and Destruction Programme in DPR Korea

5. International water purification programme

6. CFL Lighting Scheme in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK)

UPDATE 7 (2012-6-2): The creator of Nord Korea Info passed along the following information on the DPRK’s CDM projects:

1. Naenara, one of the DPRK’s official news outlets, has posted numerous CDM documents. You can see them here.

2. Information posted to the UNFCC web page on specific CDM projects:

A. Kumya Hydropower Plant (AKA Kumyagang Power Staiton No. 2)
B. Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No.3 (Comments) (AKA Ryesonggang Youth Power Station N. 3)
C. Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No.4 (Comments) (AKA Ryesonggang Youth Power Station N. 4)
D. Ryesonggang Hydropower Plant No.5 (Comments) (AKA Ryesonggang Youth Power Station N. 5)
E. Paekdusan Songun Youth 14MW Hydropower Project No.2 (AKA Paektusan Songun Youth Power Station No. 2)
F. Wonsankunmin Hydropower Project No.1 (Comments) (AKA Wonsan Army People Power Station No. 1)
G. Hamhung Hydropower Plant No.1 (AKA Hamhung Youth Power Station No. 1)

No new information is available on the Hamhung 20MW Hydropower Plant No. 2 (AKA Hamhung Youth Power Station No. 2). So I am unsure what has happened to it.

UPDATE 6 (2012-5-31): Bloomberg Businessweek reports on the DPRK’s efforts to sell carbon credits:

[U]nder the terms of the [Kyoto] protocol, North Korea, as a developing country and a member of the United Nations, has the right to build clean energy projects that may apply for Certified Emission Reductions, or CERs, popularly known as carbon credits. The North Koreans can then sell them to a rich country or company that needs the credits to offset its own greenhouse gases. Dig into data from the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change, and you will find seven North Korean projects registered for carbon trading.

This is where Miroslav Blazek comes in. Blazek, director of Czech company Topic Energo, acts as a link between North Korea and potential carbon credit buyers. He says his experience as manager of a tractor factory in socialist-era Czechoslovakia is invaluable for doing business with the communist North Koreans. “I can work with them because I understand how their system works,” he says. “If I send an e-mail and still don’t have a reply in several days, I know it’s not because they didn’t see it but because it had to work its way through the chain of command. For me it’s like a trip down memory lane.”

North Korea is now building seven hydroelecrtric plants, which provide some of the cleanest energy going. Most can earn tradable carbon credits. Blazek says the North Koreans “jumped” at the opportunity to get into carbon trading: “They immediately grasped that this is a way to make money.” Korea’s seven dams may generate as many as 241,000 CERs a year, worth almost €1 million ($1.3 million). “The projects are already in a relatively advanced phase,” says Ondrej Bores, director of carbon advisory services at Virtuse Energy in Prague, who’s worked with Blazek on other deals.

Still, selling anything made in North Korea has its challenges. More than 30 potential buyers pulled out because of the U.S. embargo on trade with North Korea. Blazek finally struck a deal with a Chinese-controlled conglomerate that needs credits to offset emissions from facilities in Europe. He won’t name the company, citing a confidentiality clause.

The Prague Post also reported on this story.

UPDATE 5 (2012-2-14): I have been notified that the certification program is proceeding. From a reader:

There has been a statement by the 1718 committee (on sanctions) that CDM projects in NK do not violate UN rules.

[Seven] hydropower plants did get their validation and underwent a process of “clarifications and corrections” as foreseen by UN rules. After the final report (which might have been already issued or might be issued soon) they will go for final vote to the UNFCCC.

Currently, North Korea works on projects as diverse as methane gas from coal mines, bio-gas and electricity-saving light bulbs.

UPDATE 4 (2011-7-11): I just checked the UNFCC web page, and it appears that in addition to the hydro power plants mentioned below, the North Koreans also submitted the “Energy Efficiency Improvement Project in Pyongyang Textile Factory” [sic] for carbon offsets on May 23, 2011. According to the UNFCC web page, the project is in the portfolio of the Carbon-Trade Division, GBCIO, Ministry of Foreign Trade.

UPDATE 3 (2011-7-11): DPRK begins construction of Ryesonggang Power Stations 3 and 4

On June 25th the DPRK evening news featured footage of the construction of the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 3 (례성강청년3호발전소). I have uploaded the footage to YouTube and you can see it here.

On June 28th the DPRK evening news featured footage of the construction of the Ryesonggang Youth Power Station No. 4 (례성강청년4호발전소). I have uploaded the footage to YouTube and you can see it here.

UPDATE 2 (2011-3-11): The DPRK has apparently registered eight power plants with the UNFCCC. According to Reuters:

North Korea has registered eight hydroelectric plants with the United Nations, and if approved, could allow the world’s most reclusive state to sell carbon offsets to earn precious hard currency.

These hydropower projects were registered with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) for prior consideration in getting carbon credits, some of which have a capacity of 20 megawatts, the UNFCCC website showed.

Prior consideration is the first step for accreditation toward the U.N.’s Clean Development Mechanism that allows developing countries to earn tradeable carbon credits for emissions from clean-energy projects.

Bernhard Seliger, a messenger for North Korean officials on these projects, said the United Nations uploaded the information on Thursday after he submitted related forms on behalf of the North Korean government’s carbon trade division in late February.

“I have no idea when the U.N. makes a decision… North Korea has to finish the power plants, which up to now are only half-finished dams,” Seliger, Hanns Seidel Foundation’s representative in South Korea, told Reuters via email.

Analysts questioned the demand for carbon credits from North Korea, concerned the money might be siphoned off to nuclear arms or other military projects.

According to the UNFCCC web page (select Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the “Host Party” box), these are the eight power stations that have been submitted for consideration:

Hamhung Hydropower Plant No.1 (AKA Hamhung Youth Power Station No. 1)
Hamhung 20MW Hydropower Plant No. 2 (AKA Hamhung Youth Power Station No. 2)
Kumya Hydropower Plant (AKA Kumyagang Power Station No. 2)
Paekdusan Songun Youth 14MW Hydropower Project No.2 (AKA Paektusan Songun Youth Power Station No. 2)
Ryesonggang Hydropower Project No. 3 (AKA Ryesonggang Youth Power Station N. 3)
Ryesonggang Hydropower Project No. 4 (AKA Ryesonggang Youth Power Station N. 4)
Ryesonggang Hydropower Project No. 5 (AKA Ryesonggang Youth Power Station N. 5)
Wonsangunmin 20MW Hydropower Project No. 1 (AKA Wonsan Army People Power Station No. 1)

And according to an email from the UNFCCC:

This list contains all the projects which have already started and for which a notification of CDM prior consideration has been submitted. This notification is necessary to prove that the incentive of the CDM was a decisive factor for taking up the project when a project has started before a project design document (PDD) has been published for global stakeholder consultation or a new methodology in connection with the project has been submitted. However, kindly note that these projects have not yet entered the CDM project cycle as lined out in the CDM rules, requirements and procedures, and to submission for registration has yet been made.

Further details on the CDM project cycle are available here: http://cdm.unfccc.int/Projects/diagram.html

UPDATE 1 (2011-3-8): According to the Guardian:

North Korea hopes to earn much-needed hard currency by selling UN-backed carbon offsets from a series of hydro-power projects, as the country faces sanctions over its nuclear weapons programme.

If approved and registered by the UN, these would be the first projects for North Korea under a scheme called the Clean Development Mechanism (CDM). This allows developing countries to earn tradeable carbon credits for emissions reductions from clean-energy projects.

Some analysts questioned the demand for carbon credits from North Korea, with fears the money might be siphoned off to nuclear arms or other military projects.

The government has asked the Hanns Seidel Foundation of Germany, which focuses on humanitarian issues, to act as a go-between by working with UN-approved verification agency TUV Nord.

According to Bernhard Seliger, the foundation’s representative in South Korea, North Korea is initially looking at trying to get approval for three hydro power plants of 7-8 megawatts (MW).

Seliger visited the three hydro-plant construction sites in the north-east corner of the country in January.

In a statement, TUV Nord confirmed the foundation had engaged their services.

“In this respect, TUV Nord intends to verify hydropower dams in North Korea once pre-registered with United Nations framework conventions on climate change [UNFCCC] via the Beijing branch of its Chinese subsidiary TUV Nord Guangzhou,” it said.

If registered, the plants could yield millions of euros over several years.

Beijing-based lawyer Tom Luckock, who specialises in projects that curb greenhouse gas emissions, estimated that an 8 MW hydro plant could yield about 23,000 UN offsets a year.

The offsets, called Certified Emissions Reductions (CERs), are generated from registered CDM projects, such as wind farms, that are rewarded for reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The offsets currently trade at nearly €12 (£10) each and are bought by governments in rich nations that need to meet UN emissions reduction targets.

Europe is the biggest buyer, with large polluting firms allowed to buy the offsets to meet a portion of their emissions reduction targets under the EU’s emissions trading scheme.

“Finding ways to secure foreign currency is the priority for North Korea, which is linked to everything from food to raw material imports to boost reduced productivity,” said Cho Myung-chul, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.

Seliger said North Korea, which signed the UN’s Kyoto Protocol climate pact in 2005, was also interested in biomass power generation projects under the CDM.

The UN-approved national agency that assesses and approves CDM projects in North Korea was not available for comment.

Questions remained on demand for North Korean CERs.

“Even if they open up, who in the world wants to pay for North Korea that is blamed for its nuclear weapons programme?” said Choi Soo-young, a senior researcher at the Korea Institute for National Unification.

Cho said the UN needed to prevent outside cash going into its nuclear development activities, while Luckock, of global law firm Norton Rose, said: “Their limited access to hard currency has to be a concern for buyers – the damages clauses will carry limited weight without some security there.”

Another challenge is that North Korea would have to make public its energy consumption and generation data and disclose information on the amount of energy linked to the hydro project.

“Annual inspection, constant measurement and energy flow posting on the [UNFCCC] website – all these things are new for North Korea,” Seliger said.

According to the AFP:

“We are talking about eight power plants, with the smallest size about 7.5 megawatts. These are not big projects but small or medium-sized projects,” Bernhard Seliger told AFP.

None has yet been completed, he said.

“I saw some (construction) sites in South Hamkyong province but that’s not all. There are other plants in other regions,” Seliger said, adding that some of the projects are led by the UN Development Programme.

The Hanns Seidel Foundation has been working since 2003 to build the North’s development capacity, and in 2008 organised a seminar on carbon trading for Pyongyang officials at their request.

The tradeable credits, called Certified Emissions Reductions, are awarded for approved clean-energy projects such as hydropower plants or wind farms.

Big polluters elsewhere in the world can buy them as part of their efforts to cut emissions.

Seliger said his foundation is helping the North to prepare for the auditing process required to join the UN carbon credit trading system known as the Clean Development Mechanism.

“One good thing about this project is that it is very transparent, involving monitoring and auditing on an annual basis… I think it is very good for North Korea to participate in such an international regime,” said Seliger.

An official at a South Korean state agency, the Korea Energy Management Corp, said registration would take at least a year or two and it was unclear how much the North would be able to earn if approved.

The official, who declined to be identified, said a typical eight-megawatt hydropower plant could yield about 19,500 carbon credits each year, each of which was currently traded at 12 euros in global markets.

This would amount to around $327,000 a year.

But some buyers may shun the communist state, given its history of nuclear and missile development which has led to international sanctions.

“Government buyers will certainly shy away from dealing with the North,” said Koo Jung-Han, a researcher at the Korea Institute of Finance.

“But private companies have few reasons not to buy credits from the North as long as it can offer a competitively low price. However, the big question is whether the North will be able to build the plants without outside financiers.”

Koo said that countries hoping to buy carbon credits from upcoming overseas projects often encourage investment in the ventures by their own finance companies.

“But what kind of financial companies will take a plunge in projects in such a volatile, politically risky country like North Korea?”

The North suffers persistent power shortages even in the showpiece capital Pyongyang.

Many rural areas receive power only during key agricultural seasons, and must rely for the rest of the year on alternative fuels, according to a recent policy paper published by the Nautilus Institute think-tank.

Here are the web pages for the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the UNFCCC Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) Program.

A reader writes in with the following comments:

I would like to share some comments on the potential CDM projects in north Korea as i have been working on this field for many years now.

Concerning existing hydro-power plants:
To be eligible as a CDM project, one of the first criteria is the additionality of the project. You have to prove (the rules are very strict) that the project would not have been launched without the consideration of the revenues from the reselling of the CERs. So the dams that have already been buit are not eligible.

Concerning hydro-power plants that are being implemented:
The first step of a CDM project is to notify to the UNFCCC secretariat and to Designated National Authority (in this case the Secretariat of the National Coordinating Committee of Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for Environment) that you are seeking to establish your project as a CDM project. Up to now, no such notification has been received by UNFCCC so it would be quite difficult for projects being implemented to ask for the CDM status (I mean nearly impossible).

Some facts concerning future hydro-power projects:
From the day you send the notification that you are seeking the CDM status to the day you are actually given the status, it takes in average 2 to 3 years (they would have to build the plants during this period). Then it can be at least another year before you receive the CERs. The price of 12 euro for a CER is for secondary market. The price for primary CER (directly sold by the producer) would be much less than 8 euro.

The figure of 20 000 CERs/year is completely unpredictable for the moment, here is a simplification of the calculation: One CER is equal to one tonne of CO2 equivalent that would be avoided by producing clean electricity. For example when you produce 1 MW electricity from coal, the process releases X tonnes of CO2 in the atmosphere but when you produce 1 MW from a hydropower plant, you do not release CO2. In order to calculate what the CDM project would be able to claim, we would have to know the CO2 emission factor of the North Korean grid and then multiply it by the amount of MWh produced by the CDM project. If most of the electricity produced these days in North Korea already comes from hydro-power plants, then the national emission factor will be low and the CDM project will not avoid a lot of CO2 emission (and so not earn a lot of €) Without the capacity of the future project and the national emission factor, it is impossible to estimate the amount of CERs the project could generate.

The CDM status seems quiet unrealistic to obtain for North Korean projects but other international agreements are discussed these days and their outcome may be more adapted.

ORIGINAL POST (2011-1-31): According to Radio Free Asia:

Nuclear-armed but cash-starved North Korea has expressed interest in joining the world carbon market in an apparent bid to earn precious hard currency and avoid international sanctions, an expert told RFA.

But the secretive Kim Jong Il regime has to disclose critical information, such as energy consumption data as well as methods by which it derives energy, to be eligible for funding under the United Nations’ Clean Development Mechanism (CDM), said the North Korea expert, speaking on condition of anonymity.

The CDM is aimed at encouraging companies or organizations in the developed world to invest in carbon dioxide emissions-saving projects in developing countries.

In return for funding and technology transfer, investors receive carbon credits, which can then either be traded on carbon markets or used to reduce their own emissions tally if they are subject to a domestic cap.

The Kyoto Protocol set emission caps for 38 countries through 2012, establishing the CDM as a worldwide carbon market. It is a cornerstone of the group’s efforts to tackle global warming.

The North Korea expert told RFA on Jan. 13 that Pyongyang intended to apply for funding via the CDM and that the regime might list its proposed hydro-electricity power projects under the U.N. mechanism.

UN refrains from comment

When contacted on the North Korea move, the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the secretariat charged with implementing the global environmental treaty to stabilize greenhouse gas concentrations, said it would refrain from commenting on individual country projects.

The North Korea expert estimated that one ton of carbon dioxide would trade for about U.S. $26 dollars and if a hydro-electric power project was registered under the CDM, depending on the carbon credit bid price, about U.S. $1 million dollars could be earned annually.

A hydro project registered under the CDM would need to be evaluated by U.N. inspectors for it to qualify for carbon credits. Usually, it would be evaluated continuously for about 14 years.

Details, including the amount of energy linked to the hydro project and potential reduction of greenhouse gas emissions, would have to be submitted.

North Korea has been mostly reluctant to share information about its energy generation activities.

According to the expert, North Korea has recently displayed “great interest” in the possibility of operating hydro-electric power stations to alleviate its domestic energy shortages and to acquire “carbon credits” that it could, in turn, sell on the international carbon market.

Hard currency

As North Korea’s economic crisis worsens, Pyongyang is seeking ways to earn hard currency following a failed currency reform and due to sanctions imposed by the international community over its nuclear and missile developments and provocations targeting South Korea.

The interest in the CDM is likely to be part of this search.

The North Korea expert also said that earning hard currency through “carbon credits” would not be subject to sanctions imposed on Pyongyang under UN Security Council resolutions, and that any North Korea’s application for participation under the CDM “may stand a chance.”

“For North Korea, this could be an opportunity to earn hard currency without engaging in illegal armament sales, while operating an electric power station in transparent fashion, and accepting strict monitoring by the UN, and abiding by applicable international standards.”

The United States has been pressing China to use its influence to persuade North Korea regime to end recent provocations and return to disarmament talks involving the three countries and South Korea, Russia and Japan.

The six-party nuclear talks were last held in 2008. The impoverished North has been seeking a restart to the nuclear negotiations, which propose to reward its gradual nuclear disarmament with phased infusions of economic aid.

In a bid to renew dialogue and ease chances of conflict, South Korea recently proposed holding a preliminary meeting with North Korea on Feb. 11 to prepare for high-level defense talks. On Friday, the North suggested parliamentary talks between the two sides.

Read the full story here:
North Korea Eyes Carbon Market
Radio Free Asia
1/29/2011

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