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Biogas And New Inter-Korean Energy Cooperation

Biogas And New Inter-Korean Energy Cooperation

LEE Han-Hee

Nov. 14, 2007

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Increasing fuel prices and concerns about the effects of global warming have sparked rapidly increased interest in sources of renewable energy. Among the most promising is “bio-energy,” i.e., energy derived from biological sources, particularly organic matter that is currently discarded.

Among these sources, pig waste represents an excellent source of potential clean energy, well suited to North Korea . Various conditions in North Korea , including an aging power infrastructure, financial inability to purchase fuel, poor coal production and distribution, and fuel embargoes caused by the North's recent nuclear adventurism have combined to make conventional energy production a major difficulty. Nuclear energy production is also undesirable for many reasons, including potential diversion for illicit military use. With a large rural population that can easily draw on bio-energy provided by pig waste and use most energy for heating and fuel, North Korea 's demographic and environmental conditions are compatible with power production from biogas. In addition to being accessible, biogas is also an environmentally friendly fuel, which diverts gases that would otherwise produce greenhouse effects in the atmosphere to safe and clean energy. Moreover, it also produces liquid and solid byproducts th at can be used as fertilizer and soil additives.

Biogas also benefits from lower facilities costs vis-a-vis other forms of energy, and thus fits North Korea , where facilities costs will be the determining factor. Finally, biogas also benefits by being a “neutral” solution in terms of regional security, without the associated hazards associated with nuclear power, and can also benefit the South by helping it reduce its greenhouse emissions. Ultimately, development of biogas as an energy source can be a win-win strategy for both Koreas , and merits careful consideration and support.

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