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N. Korea building new thermal power plant to meet energy shortages

North Korea has been building a new coal-powered thermal power plant near Pyongyang in a sign that the destitute nation is struggling to resolve chronic electricity shortages, a U.S. researcher said Tuesday.
   
Commercial satellite imagery shows that construction of the power plant began sometime in late 2010 or early 2011 in Kangdong County, in eastern Pyongyang, said Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in a report on the website 38 North.
   
Steady progress has since been made on key facilities such as the distinctive cooling tower, employee housing, an electrical switch yard, generator hall, smoke stack and conveyor system for bringing coal into the boiler building, the researcher said.
   
The new power plant is expected to be capable of generating 100-300 megawatts, about 20 percent of the capacity of the Pukchang Thermal Power Plant, the North's largest thermal power plant. The new power plant could be an attempt to supplement the aged Pukchang complex, he said.
   
Construction continued despite North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's calls in his New Year's address for producing more electricity "with priority given to hydraulic resources and by using wind, geothermal, solar and other kinds of natural energy," Curtis said.
  
"Though Kim Jong-un has not yet made energy policy one of his public priorities, continued construction of the Kangdong Thermal Power Plant indicates that energy security remains an important goal of his regime," the expert said. (Yonhap)

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