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View more articles by Damin Jung
Damin Jung was an NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked at the CSIS (Center for Strategic and International Studies) Korea Chair.
Update at 1000 KST: This article has been amended to include a picture published today of the new technology
North Korean scientists have developed “a light and foldable” solar panel which can be “carried inside a backpack and… installed at any place”, state media reported on Thursday.
According to DPRK Today, “polycrystalline silicon flakes with high conversion efficiency and high stability among various types of solar cell materials” were selected during the manufacturing process, which was carried out by researchers at the State Academy of Sciences.
The output of this flexible solar cell is 20 watts, and “electronic sealing technology” was applied to prevent damage from external moisture and damage during transportation.
The portable solar cell is “just a paper-size” when folded, according to the report, adding that it is equipped to back up the power of “various electronic devices.”
Solar panels are increasingly popular in North Korea. A solar-powered ferry shuttle service was launched last February, Chinese-made solar cars were observed in photos obtained by NK Pro earlier in the year, and a visit to Pyongyang by NK News in April revealed that solar panels are now common on apartments blocks in Pyongyang.
State media reports on solar panel development at Kim Il Sung University
The North Korean government has increasingly been keen to promote renewable energy in recent years. Kim Jong Un, in his report to the Seventh-Party Congress last year, said that North Korea should promote solar energy, along with other renewable energy such as wind, hydro, and biomass energy.
The new emphasis on solar energy in North Korea may be attributable to its low cost. A 20-Watt panel, the capacity of the newly developed portable cell, costs roughly USD$40 and can provide fuel for an entire family.
State media has also reported that street and garden lights in public areas, in Pyongyang at least, are increasingly being fueled by solar power.
The development of portable solar cell seems to have been going on since last August, when KCNA reported on the fact that “engineers in one country have recently developed portable solar cells.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham