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Green Globe: North Korea's rulers limit grid's reach to maintain control


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Green Globe: North Korea's rulers limit grid's reach to maintain control

After U.S. President Donald Trump's historic meeting with North Korea's dictator Kim Jong-un in Singapore, some Western companies are preparing for the possibility of one day doing business in the reclusive totalitarian nation. But the country's lack of electricity access concerns companies and human rights organizations alike.

According to the World Bank, about 39% of North Korea's population had access to electrical power as of 2016. North Koreans' electricity consumption fell to 600 kWh per capita in 2014, barely enough to power a single light bulb for one year. Controlling access to electricity helps Kim's regime maintain control over the populace, according to a June 12 report from National Review.

"Indeed, by restricting electricity use, Kim has turned it into a weapon," Robert Bryce, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, wrote. "In February, as sanctions on his country began pinching his regime's finances, rather than increase the supply of electricity to North Koreans, he began selling it to China."

Not only has the country's antiquated grid raised concerns about North Koreans' well-being, but it has also made companies question the wisdom of investing in the country, even if North Korea opens up to foreign businesses, The New York Times reported.

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India announced June 5 the winners of its latest tender for 2,000 MW of wind projects, a positive sign for developers after clean energy activity stagnated over the past year amid regulatory uncertainty. The following companies were awarded project bids:

* Adanl Green Energy Limited for a 300 MW project

* Mytrah Energy Ltd for a 300 MW project

* Spring Energy Private Limited for a 300 MW project

* Blp Energy Private Ltd for a 285 MW project

* Renew Wind Energy Private Limited for a 265 MW project

* Srijan Energy Systems Private Ltd for a 250 MW project

* Betam Wind Energy Private Limited for a 200 MW project

* Inox Wind Infrastructure Services Ltd for a 100 MW project

The tender results highlight India's progress on getting back on track on awarding government contracts for wind projects. After the country shifted to a competitive bidding process in 2016, the government was slow to provide updated guidelines, causing a lag in auctions and stalling companies' progress in expanding the clean-energy market. India released new guidelines for wind project bids in December 2017.

Brazil-based mining company Vale SA agreed to sell a combined 75% of cobalt production from one of its mines in Canada to Wheaton Precious Metals Corp. and Cobalt 27 Capital Corp.

In total, the deals for access to production at Voisey's Bay are worth $690 million. Cobalt 27 chairman and CEO Anthony Milewski said the deal diversifies the company's portfolio and gives his team new access to cobalt, a crucial metal in electric vehicle batteries, in a low political-risk jurisdiction. "We believe the enhanced exposure to cobalt will yield significant returns to our investors as electric vehicles begin to change our society in the coming years," he said in a June 11 statement.

Access to cobalt has become a critical risk for electric car makers; most of the world's supply comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where political unrest and human rights violations in the mines have increasingly endangered the supply chain. Instability in the DRC has driven some companies to seek more politically stable countries for cobalt mining, such as Canada and Russia.


* Germany has launched a task force to formulate a plan to shutter its massive fleet of coal power plants after repeatedly postponing their shutdown.

* E.ON SE has signed a 20-year power sales agreement with SK E&S Co. Ltd., one of South Korea's largest energy companies, for half of the output of its proposed 100-MW solar PV project in Reeves County, Texas.

* A group of banks have completed project financing for the 128-MW Formosa 1 offshore wind farm in Taiwan.

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