October 6, 1998 update

Nautilus Institute Completes First American Windpower Village Project in North Korea

BEIJING, OCTOBER 6, 1998 — Peter Hayes, Executive Director of the Berkeley-based Nautilus Institute announced today in Beijing after leaving North Korea that a team of five American engineers had completed construction of seven wind turbines in Unhari Village.

At the same time, he released via the Internet a set of photographs of the US-DPRK Village Windpower Project which provide a unique glimpse into North Korea’s almost closed rural society.

“Our experts have built seven towers and installed wind turbines on each of them to power the medical clinic, the kindergarten, and household humanitarian electricity needs in Unhari Village,” said Hayes.

“We turned on the system on October 5th and we are generating electricity in North Korea to meet humanitarian end uses,” he said.

“In addition to making power, we have also supplied compact fluorescent light bulbs for the kindergarten and twenty households,” he added.

“About fifty North Korean engineers, technicians and laborers from the village worked shoulder-to-shoulder alongside the American team,” he stated.

“There was a friendly spirit in the field at all times. We were impressed with how fast the North Koreans learned how to install and operate the American equipment,” he noted.

“The American and North Koreans also jointly conducted a rural energy survey and a socioeconomic assessment in the village–the first time that such standard international project planning methods have been employed in the DPRK.”

“At a time when the US-DPRK Agreed Framework signed in 1994 is under strong attack in the US Congress, this private cooperation on wind power is in striking contrast to the slow progress in implementing the official KEDO project in North Korea whereby the United States is to supply heavy fuel oil and two light water reactors,” he said.

“The North Koreans clearly wanted this project to succeed,” he said.

“We were allowed to film video and take photos almost without restraint in a highly militarized zone. We went into households and conducted detailed interviews and physical surveys of the use of energy in the village economy. The North Koreans went the extra mile to make this project succeed.”

“Perhaps they are trying to say something to Washington about cooperation, if only Washington would listen and take yes for an answer,” he concluded.

“And maybe they are trying to explain to their own people that tangible benefits might flow from cooperation with the United States rather than confrontation,” he asserted.

The photographs provided by Nautilus include the windpower system, North Korean technicians and engineers, the household energy survey, and pictures of village households, the kindergarten, and the medical clinic receiving electricity from the windpower system.

The project is located at Unhari Village, about thirty miles north of Nampo City on the west coast of North Korea. The villagers farm rice on reclaimed land which was inundated last year when a twenty five foot tidal wave hit the shoreline, sweeping away large portions of the dike and destroying the rice fields.

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. Until now, non-governmental organizations have been limited by both the American and the North Korean governments to delivering food aid to North Korea.

The Nautilus Institute windpower team consisted of Dr. Peter Hayes, an Australian expert on Korean security issues and long time resident in the United States; Dr. Jim Williams, an American expert on renewable energy technologies; Mr. Mick Sagrillo, a leading American wind turbine construction engineer; Dr. David Von Hippel, an American analyst of North Korea’s energy economy; and Mr. Chris Greacen, an American expert on rural electrification in developing countries.

The North Korean team consisted of electric power specialists and local village electricians and technicians.