September 25, 1998 update

Nautilus Team Starts Up Seven Wind Power Towers in North Korea


Seven wind-power towers have generated their first power for households, a kindergarten and a medical clinic in this small North Korean village. The achievement was announced by Dr. Peter Hayes, Executive Director of the Berkeley-based Nautilus Institute, in a communication from North Korea over the weekend.

BERKELEY, CA, SEPTEMBER 25, 1998 — A team of four American windpower experts has arrived in a North Korean village to construct a wind power system in a flood-affected village, and commenced construction work, Dr. Peter Hayes, Executive Director of the Berkeley-based Nautilus Institute, announced today in Beijing en route to Pyongyang in North Korea.

“The American experts are to complete seven towers and install wind turbines on each of them to power the medical clinic, the kindergarten, and household humanitarian electricity needs,” said Hayes.

“We are on our second mission this year to North Korea,” he said. “Since the first mission in May when we built a wind recording tower, the North Koreans have been sending us the wind data for this site by fax. This time, we will erect the wind turbines and deliver efficient appliances, including a small refrigerator for the medical clinic, and compact fluorescent light bulbs for the kindergarten and households,” he added.

“About fifty North Korean engineers, technicians and laborers from the village are working alongside the American team to complete the system by early October,” he added.

“The wind turbines were procured from American companies and were exported with US export licenses to North Korea. This project is the first cooperative project on rural energy implemented by an American non-governmental organization in North Korea,” he asserted.

Unprecedented joint assessments of village

“The American and North Koreans are also jointly implementing 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 a cooperative non governmental project in the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea).”

“If implemented rigorously, this survey and assessment will provide crucial data for the task of rural reconstruction in North Korea, and will also increase transparency of North Korean society to the outside world,” he declared.

“This project shows that renewable energy can play an important role in implementing the October 1994 US-DPRK Agreed Framework, currently the subject of much contention in the US House of Representatives, which has balked at funding provision of heavy fuel oil to North Korea,” he said.

“Renewable energy is also a powerful tool for confidence building between the United States and North Korea, as well as other states in the region,” asserted Hayes.

“Indeed, the potential role of renewable energy technologies to induce countries to give up nuclear weapons aspirations was written into the 1978 US Nuclear Non-Proliferation Act. The US-DPRK Village Windpower Project is the first example of renewable energy being used for preventive non-proliferation and is an important test case,” he concluded.

The project is located at Unhi-ra Village, about thirty miles north of Nampo City on the west coast of North Korea. The villagers farms 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.

First NGO project for engagement with DPRK

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.

“Our access to this sensitive area is particularly remarkable in light of the tension surfacing between the United States and the DPRK at this time. It is very obvious to us that the North Koreans want this project to succeed. They have gone to extraordinary lengths to ensure that it succeed, including making special arrangements in the port of Nampo to rush the container full of the wind turbine equipment off the ship when the crane broke.”

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.