National Energy Grid
Full Size Map National Electricity Transmission Grid of North Korea(27 kb)
North Korea relies on two domestic sources of commercial energy -- coal and hydropower -- for most of its energy needs. In 2000, coal accounted for about 86% of primary energy consumption. North Korea's electric generating capacity is split nearly evenly between coal-fired thermal plants and hydroelectric plants. In 2000, hydroelectric power plants generated about 67% of North Korea's electricity and thermal plants about 33%. The country's thermal generating capacity is underutilized due to a lack of fuels. The country's total electricity consumption in 2000 was only 65% of what it had been in 1991, though it showed an increase of nearly 9% over the figure for 1999.
As a result of the electricity shortage, North Korea has resorted to a rationing system. The country often experiences blackouts for extended periods of time, and power losses due to an antiquated transmission grid are high. Rainfall improved in 2001, but some hydroelectric facilities are believed to be out of operation due to flood damage from major flooding in 1996.
The prospect of South Korean help for North Korea's electricity shortage was discussed at the June 2000 summit meeting, and North Korea has since been seeking electricity from South Korea since then. A linkage between the electric grids of the two Koreas is one possibility, but it would be of limited immediate value due to the North's poor transmission infrastructure. At present, South Korea has not agreed to supply the North with electricity from its own transmission grid. North Korea also has reportedly discussed the possibility of electricity aid with Russia.