Energy in North Korea

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Pyongchon Thermal Power Station generates electricity for central Pyongyang.

Energy in North Korea describes energy and electricity production, consumption and import in North Korea.

North Korea is a net energy exporter. Primary energy use in North Korea was 224 TWh and 9 TWh per million people in 2009.[1] The country's primary sources of power are coal and hydro, after Kim Jong-il implemented plans that saw the construction of large hydroelectric power stations across the country.[2]

North Korea energy production in relation to population was about same as is in South Korea in 2004–2009. The difference is in the energy import. North Korea is almost self-sufficient in energy. The energy import is very small in North Korea and 86% of primary energy use in South Korea. North Korea's population in 2009 was 23,91 million, and 48,75 million in South Korea.[citation needed]


Imagery of the Korean Peninsula at night, showing that North Korea is almost in almost complete darkness due to a lack of electricity[3]
Energy in North Korea[4]
Capita Prim. energy Production Export Electricity CO2-emission
Million TWh TWh TWh TWh Mt
2004 22.38 237 223 -15 18.50 70.20
2007 23.78 214 229 15 18.12 62.32
2008 23.86 236 242 6 19.54 69.37
2009 23.91 224 236 12 17.76 66.20
2012 24.45 18.21 64.82
2012R 24.76 164 236 72 16.20 45.42
2013 24.90 168 280 112 16.44 47.68
Change 2004-09 6.8 % -5.4 % 5.5 % - -4.0 % -5.7 %
Mtoe = 11.63 TWh, Prim. energy includes energy losses that are 2/3 for nuclear power[5]

2012R = CO2 calculation criteria changed, numbers updated

Per capita electricity consumption[edit]

According to statistics compiled by the South Korean agency, Statistics Korea, based on International Energy Agency (IEA) data, per capita electricity consumption fell from its peak in 1990 of 1247 kilowatt hours to a low of 712 kilowatt hours in 2000. It has slowly risen since to 819 kilowatt hours in 2008, a level below that of 1970.[6][7]

In 2017 many homes were using small standalone photovoltaic systems.[8][9]

Oil imports[edit]

North Korea imports crude oil from an aging pipeline that originates in Dandong, China. The crude oil is refined at the Ponghwa Chemical Factory in Sinuiju, North Korea.[10] North Korea has a smaller oil refinery, the Sŭngri Refinery, on its Russian border. The country had been able to import oil from China and the Soviet Union for below market prices, but with the end of the Cold War, these deals were not renewed, leading to an explosive rise in oil prices for Pyongyang and a drop in imports.[11]

North Korea imports jet fuel, diesel fuel, and gasoline from two refineries in Dalian, China, which arrive at the North Korean port of Nampo.[10]

Power facilities[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ 2011 IEA Key energy statistics 2011 Archived 2011-10-27 at the Wayback Machine Page: Country specific indicator numbers from page 48
  2. ^ "North Korea's Hydroelectric Power – Part I | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea". 38 North. 2019-07-03. Retrieved 2019-09-09.
  3. ^ "Satellite data strongly suggests that China, Russia and other authoritarian countries are fudging their GDP reports". Washington Post. Retrieved 1 September 2019.
  4. ^ IEA Key World Energy Statistics Statistics 2015 Archived 2016-03-13 at WebCite, 2014 (2012R as in November 2015 Archived 2015-05-05 at WebCite + 2012 as in March 2014 is comparable to previous years statistical calculation criteria, 2013 Archived 2014-09-02 at the Wayback Machine, 2012 Archived 2013-03-09 at the Wayback Machine, 2011 Archived 2011-10-27 at the Wayback Machine, 2010 Archived 2010-10-11 at the Wayback Machine, 2009 Archived 2013-10-07 at the Wayback Machine, 2006 Archived 2009-10-12 at the Wayback Machine IEA October, crude oil p. 11, coal p. 13 gas p. 15
  5. ^ Energy in Sweden 2010 Archived October 16, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Facts and figures, The Swedish Energy Agency, Table 8 Losses in nuclear power stations Table 9 Nuclear power brutto
  6. ^ Kim Tae Hong (August 6, 2012). "Economic Collapse Reflected in Scarce Electricity". Daily NK. Archived from the original on September 4, 2012. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  7. ^ "N. Korea's power consumption per capita at 1970s levels". Yonhap News. Yonhap. August 6, 2012. Archived from the original on October 22, 2014. Retrieved August 6, 2012.
  8. ^ Frank, Ruediger (6 April 2017). "Consumerism in North Korea: The Kwangbok Area Shopping Center". 38 North. U.S.-Korea Institute, Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. Archived from the original on 11 April 2017. Retrieved 10 April 2017.
  9. ^ Lankov, Andrei (31 May 2017). "How North Korea 's electricity supply became one of the world's worst". NK News. Retrieved 21 October 2017. outside walls of houses are nearly all plastered with solar panels
  10. ^ a b Aizhu, Chen (2017-04-28). "How North Korea gets its oil from China: lifeline in question at U.N. meeting". Reuters. Retrieved 2017-09-09.
  11. ^ "Can North Korea Survive An Oil Embargo?". OilPrice. 12 September 2017.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]