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Electricity in North Korea in 2021

Global Ranking: #99
83.2% #26 Low-carbon electricity
63.51 watts #166 Generation / person
157.89 gCO2eq/kWh #34 Carbon Intensity

In 2021, electricity consumption in North Korea was predominantly powered by Low-Carbon sources. Out of 12.02 TWh of electricity generated, approximately all of it is derived from hydropower, a low-carbon energy source. In comparison, fossil fuel, specifically coal, only contributed about 2.43 TWh to electricity generation. The lack of diversification in North Korea's clean energy mix is noticeable, with the amount of hydropower more than quintupling the contribution from fossil fuels. Moreover, the average total electricity consumption per person is notably lower than the global average of 410 watts/person, which could indicate a lower standard of living, hinder industrial progress, and limit technological advancements.


Above being said, North Korea can take lessons from other successful nations in increasing its low-carbon electricity generation. For instance, China and United States show great examples of harnessing wind, solar and nuclear power. Additionally, North Korea’s geographical neighbor, South Korea, is a dominant player in nuclear electricity generation, producing about 172 TWh. Similarly, countries like Russia and France have significantly leveraged the potential of nuclear power. With these cases in mind, North Korea could increase its low-carbon electricity generation by exploring these aforementioned low-carbon sources alongside hydropower. Adopting a diversified portfolio of low-carbon sources could significantly scale up its clean energy output and potentially improve its electricity consumption rate per person.


Looking into past, the history of low-carbon electricity generation in North Korea has been wavering, mostly dominated by hydroelectric power generation. The 1980s witnessed a gradual initial growth in hydropower. But, a significant decline was reported in the early 1990s, particularly in 1992 and 1993. There were again dips in output in the late 1990s and mid-2000s. The 2010s showed an inconsistent pattern of rises and falls, with sizeable declines in production in 2014 and 2015. At the onset of 2020, there was an uptake in hydroelectric generation. In spite of these fluctuations, hydropower remains a predominant low-carbon energy source in North Korea. While there have been periods of decline, the potential for hydropower remains high. These trends underline the need for expanding into other low-carbon energy sources like nuclear, solar, and wind for a more sustained and reliable energy future.

Electricity Imports and Exports

Balance of Trade

Data Sources

For the years 1980 to 1989 the data source is EIA.
For the years 1990 to 2018 the data source is IEA.
For the years 2019 to 2021 the data source is Ember.
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