Daily NK has learned that the authorities are considering closing down the iconic Pyongyang CHP Plant, which has supplied much of Pyongyang’s electricity for more than 50 years.
A Pyongyang source told the Daily NK on the 30th, “There is news that Pyongyang CHP is being demolished due to the environmental pollution.”
The plant, which is located in the Pyongcheon region of the North Korean capital, first went online in 1961 with a capacity of 200MW. It was expanded to 400MW in 1967, and currently covers a 400,000m2 area of city real estate. The plant was once the only power generating facility in the city.
However, it is now highly inefficient by modern standards and suffers regular equipment failures. The amount of coal consumed by its combined heat and power system is also both enormous, to the extent that it could easily be more effective to export the coal and buy power with the money, and enormously polluting to both the local air and watercourses.
Therefore, the authorities are reportedly hoping to replace the power generated by Pyongyang CHP with that produced by the recently completed Heechon Power Station. However, the clear flaw is that while the capacity of Heechon is sufficient to replace Pyongyang CHP production on paper, there are serious questions over its potential to replace thermal power production given the problems North Korea has gathering enough water for hydroelectricity at certain times of year.
The source said, “Pyongyang residents are worried that ‘If the water dries up in Jagang Province, then Pyongyang’s electricity will also be cut off.”
However, Pyongyang CHP is not the only thermal power supplier to the city. To power the large apartments near Unification Street, the 200MW East Pyongyang CHP was built by a Russian company, Tekhnopromexport, in the early 1990s, going online in 1993. In 2008 when the same plant underwent modernization, the official propaganda declared, “Now, just like Germany, the U.S. and Japan we are equipped with a world class power plant.”
On the 28th of last month, the North Korean media released news of work to further improve the second Pyongyang plant, although it is unclear what this means in reality.