DPRK Renewable Energy Project
thursday, june 3, 1999

North Korean Rural Energy Study Tour Leaves U.S. for China
A California think-tank has signed agreements with North Korean rural energy experts for a two-year collaboration to help solve critical energy problems in that country while building working relations with U.S. specialists.

Peter Hayes, Executive Director of the Berkeley-based Nautilus Institute, made the announcement after the five-member delegation from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) departed May 4 from San Francisco for Beijing, China.

During the two-and-a-half-week visit, Dr. Hayes said, the Nautilus Institute signed an agreement with the North Korean delegation to continue the Institute's ground-breaking collaboration over the coming two years on rural energy in the DPRK. The two sides agreed to work together on energy efficient water pumping for agriculture and human consumption in the DPRK.

Previously, the Nautilus Institute helped North Korean energy specialists build several windmills for power generation, supplying a health clinic, a kindergarten, and 20 homes in a rural village. The project was approved by the two countries' governments as a humanitarian relief effort.

"After arriving on April 17, the DPRK rural energy delegation spent two weeks in California, Delaware, and Washington, DC and visited many public and private energy facilities," Dr. Hayes said.

The visitors also went to U.S. Department of Energy* headquarters, where they were briefed on renewable energy technologies. In Delaware, the visitors spent a day on a rural electric cooperative, where they saw first-hand how electricity is distributed in rural areas of the United States.

In Berkeley, they also participated in a two-day workshop of scholars and experts on rural energy issues. The workshop was co-sponsored by Nautilus Institute, the Energy and Resources Group* at the University of California at Berkeley, and the Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation* at the University of California at San Diego.

Precedent-Setting Visit

"This is the first time that North Korean energy experts and technicians have engaged in a forthright and open way in such scholarly exchange with American academics and experts," said Dr. Hayes.

"The North Korean scholars came well prepared for this event, and provided substantial insights into the crucial links between food, fuel and famine in North Korea," he added.

"It became starkly clear in our discussions that there can be no solution to the food problem in North Korea without provision of adequate energy for production, distribution and preparation of food," he asserted.

U.S.-China-DPRK Cooperation

He stated that the US study tour was preceded and will be followed by a study tour on rural energy in China hosted by the Energy and Environmental Technology Center at Tsinghua University in Beijing.

"This three way non-governmental cooperation between the United States, China and the DPRK is very positive for improving the relations between countries in the region," he said.

Nautilus also released via the World Wide Web a set of photographs of the DPRK Rural Energy Delegation in the United States.

The private project, funded by the W. Alton Jones Foundation* in Virginia, is the first American non-governmental attempt to engage cooperatively with North Korea on energy and food production issues.

Nautilus has previously collaborated on two successful energy-related projects with North Korean NGOs. In December 1997, Nautilus sponsored the first energy study tour of the US by a DPRK delegation, focusing on renewable energy and energy efficiency. The tour visited a variety of manufacturers, national laboratories, electric utilities, NGOs, and government agencies, and included the first-ever DPRK visits to the headquarters of the Department of Energy and the World Bank.*

In 1998, a Nautilus team designed and built a wind power system in the North Korean village of Unhari, to provide electricity for humanitarian purposes such as clinic refrigeration and home lighting. This marked the first time that US and DPRK engineers have worked side-by-side in a field project of this kind. Further information, including photos and media coverage, can be obtained at the Nautilus Institute web site at http://www.nautilus.org/dprkrenew/index.html.

Last Thursday, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists* published a detailed account of this project in the DPRK in its May issue.

The Nautilus Institute is a non-profit research and education organization based in Berkeley California.

More information: Contact Steve Freedkin by email or at (510) 204-9296.

*Links with asterisks may open in a new browser window.

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