North Korea took another step towards reducing its reliance on oil with the unveiling of a bus powered by solar panels on its roof.
Renewable energy has become a strategic focus for Pyongyang given the savings that it represents over oil, according to EFE. Imported oil is currently a major drain on North Korea, which is suffering from economic decline.
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Photos show old bus covered in solar panels
The new bus was unveiled in the city of Nampo, around 40 kilometers southwest of the capital, Pyongyang. State-owned broadcaster KCTV published photos of a bus whose roof was plastered in solar panels.
Aside from the panels the bus looked far from modern, but KCTV reports that it can reach a top speed of 40 kilometers per hour thanks to 32 100-Watt solar panels, 50 batteries and an electric motor. It is not clear whether the bus is entirely driven by solar energy or if it employs a hybrid system.
Solar energy has become increasingly popular in North Korea, where panels can now be seen on some houses and official buildings. The government has been actively promoting renewable energies in a bid to reduce the amount of oil it has to import.
Economic situation worsens in North Korea
Oil imports are a huge expense for the treasury, and are mainly sourced from China. The quest to become self-sufficient may also be an attempt to reduce the influence of foreign powers on North Korean policy.
China is traditionally a key ally of North Korea but has recently become increasingly exasperated with its neighbor. As China matures and becomes more influential around the world, its association with North Korea is becoming increasingly troublesome.
North Korea is struggling to maintain economic growth and is currently subject to sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council in response to Pyongyang’s continued work on its nuclear weapons program.
Current leader Kim Jong-un has been in power since 2011, and has overseen progress in technology and infrastructure during his rule. That said the majority of North Koreans still struggle to find enough food to eat, and are subject to a brutal regime that has been accused of perpetrating grave human rights abuses.