North Korea’s Energy Sector


North Korea suffers from chronic energy shortages. Rolling blackouts are common, even in the nation’s capital, while some of the poorest citizens receive state-provided electricity only once a year. Some energy initiatives, such as the construction of large hydropower plants, have taken decades to complete, and sources like tidal power remain grossly underutilized. Access to solar panels has created capacity where the state falls short, but the overall energy security challenges facing the nation are daunting.

This report, “North Korea’s Energy Sector,” is a compilation of articles published on 38 North in 2023 that surveyed North Korea’s energy production facilities and infrastructure. It leverages commercial satellite imagery, insights from North Korean state media, and other reports and anecdotal evidence to help inform public understanding of the country’s energy landscape and the challenges it faces in trying to better meet the needs of its people.

This research was made possible by generous support from the UniKorea Foundation.

View and download the compilation here.

The series is available on, and individual pieces are linked below:

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38 North: News and Analysis on North Korea