No additional power plant needed for electricity aid to North Korea

A total of 1.7 trillion won is estimated to be required to develop facilities to provide 2 million kilowatts of electricity to North Korea, which the South proposed under the condition that Pyongyang dismantles its nuclear weapons program.

The Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Energy (MOCIE) and the state-run Korea Electric Power Corp. said that the total cost for the energy aid to the North will be 1.55 to 1.72 trillion won in their initial estimate.

The spending is mainly for transmission facilities, including power cables, converters and substations.

The Korean government has not yet decided on how to transmit electricity, finding a variety of options for the best solution to minimize side effects such as simultaneous blackouts in both Koreas.

The first option is to separate a power transmission network in a specific district, such as Pyongyang, from other North Korean regions, and link electricity networks of the South to the district or Pyongyang laying cables from a power transforming station in Yangju, Gyeonggi Province. This will cost about 1.55 trillion won.

Another option is to directly supply electricity to the North using high voltage direct current (HVDC) technology, while getting rid of problems that may arise from the North's instability in power transmission. This is estimated to cost some 1.72 trillion won.

The ministry plans to make a final decision, taking economy, technology and the North's power distribution system into consideration, and the estimated cost is supposed to vary slightly depending upon the North's situation, a ministry official said.

"But it is not necessary to construct additional power plants for energy aid to the North," he said, brushing away the fear that more power plants should be built.

HVDC technology, transmitting electricity over long distance by overhead transmission lines or submarine cables, is used to interconnect separate power systems, where traditional alternating current (AC) connections cannot be used.


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