03-20-98 : U.S. Group to Help Set Up Wind Power Plant in North Korea

A 15kw-level wind power plant will likely be established in North Korea with the support of an American research institute this year.

Green Korea, a South Korean environmental group, said yesterday that the power plant will be set up in Onchon County, southwest of Pyongyang.

According to the environmental group, the Nautilus Institute, which specializes in research on Northeast Asia's energy and environmental issues, recently sealed an agreement with the North Korean Anti-Nuclear Peace Committee.

The ground for the project will be broken by May and the electricity generated by the plant will be used for hospitals, schools, houses and farming facilities in the area. Onchon County is a flat plain that has been plagued by frequent floods.

"The envisaged wind power plant is relatively small in scale, so the construction could be completed within this year," said a Green Korea official.

The funds required for the construction will be raised in the United States by the Nautilus Institute.

The project was conceived last November, when Dr. Peter Hayes, a co-head of the Nautilus Institute and leader of the project, invited some high-ranking North Korean officials to the United States. Among those that came were Choi Chang-hoon, secretary-general of the North Korean Anti-Nuclear Peace Committee.

With the help of the institute, the North Korean delegation toured various energy-related facilities and power plants in the U.S. and talked over the North's energy problems with U.S. government officials.

Dr. Hayes plans to come to Seoul before visiting the North at the end of next month in order to discuss ways to create more cooperation between the two Koreas in the field of energy development.

In terms of a humanitarian point of view, the need for energy development is crucial to North Korea argues Doctor Hayes. ``North Korea faces serious problems like acid rain, deforestation and pollution by gasoline,'' says Doctor Hayes.

This poses as great a risk to the well-being of the North Korean people as having no food, says Chang Won of Green Korea.

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