- North Korea has reportedly proposed to the Chinese government to invest in solar power technology in the country, according to news reports attributed to a release of Association of China Rare Earth
- It wants China to help it set up a solar PV plant with 2.5 GW of power generating capacity with an estimated cost of $2.5 billion
- In exchange it has offered China rights to mine rare earth minerals in the country, an offer that China says it has no knowledge of
Little is known about the solar PV market of North Korea, in fact little is known about the Asian country itself that has been kept away from the world by its rulers, currently Kim Jong Un. However, it seems to be warming up to the idea of having solar PV as one of the power generating technologies.
A news attributed to the Association of China Rare Earth Industry by various media platforms claims North Korea is offering China a pie of its untapped rare earth mines in lieu of the global solar PV leader to set up a large scale PV plant in the country.
The proposed plant could have a capacity of 2.5 GW and cost around $2.5 billion, as per the association news. Reuters reported the Chinese government swears ignorance of any such offer by the North Korean government.
Rare earth minerals are extensively used in consumer electronics and military equipment of which China is a dominant producer already, explained Reuters, but North Korea seems to be hoping for China to explore such mines in the country especially in its North Pyongan province.
It may be an attractive proposition for China if such a proposal has indeed been offered, but North Korea is facing economic sanctions from the United Nations that prohibit the country from supplying such materials to the rest of the world; moreover, other nations are instructed not to deal with the Asian country in such matters.
Chinese solar modules are nonetheless popular in North Korea, according to a report by Daily NK in April 2019, since these aren’t subject to international sanctions. According to the news article, a lot of rooftop solar PV market already exists in North Korea. Widespread use of solar panels has also brought down their prices.
Another Reuters report said that according to state media, North Korea is aiming for 5 GW of renewable energy capacity by 2044 with most of it coming from wind power.