N.Korea's Coal Power Plans Threaten Air Quality

  • By Choi Won-woo

    April 09, 2019 10:03

    North Korea is seeking to build more coal-fired power plants to solve its chronic electricity shortage, which could have devastating consequences for air quality across the peninsula.

    "An increase in thermal power generation is essential," the official Rodong Sinmun daily said Monday. "We need to give priority to coal mining to operate thermal power plants at full throttle."

    Hydro power accounts for 61 percent of the North's electricity generation but is falling way short of demand, partly because there was not enough rain last winter. The rest is thermal power generation, but oil supplies are also severely restricted by international sanctions, so the only option is coal, which it has in abundance.

    In 2015 the North's energy consumption was equivalent to a mere four percent of South Korea's, but it emits 280,000 tons of fine dust particles per year, 2.7 times as much as South Korea's 104,000 tons.

    Most of North Korea's thermal power plants have no air filters or other equipment to reduce emissions.

    Environment Minister Cho Myung-rae told the National Assembly on March 11 that about 13 percent of high-density fine dust that shrouded the South that month came from the North.

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