North Koreans are turning to solar energy as a way to battle the frequent power shortages in the country.
As an example of the unreliable electricity grid, the city of Pyongyang was left without power as temperatures plummeted to -19C back in 2012. This was mostly due to fuel shortages. When there is not enough power for the entire city, the electricity is prioritized for factories and strategic areas.
An estimate done in 2013 states that North Korean power output is roughly 35 tWh per year. This is roughly 8% of what South Korea produces on an annual basis.
In order for ordinary citizens to have electricity for the essentials such as heating their homes during winter, they are turning to solar panels. The solar panels have become a viable option due to the dramatic drop in their costs over the last couple of years. These days, a 50W solar panel goes for roughly $35 USD. A 200W panel will set you back about $150 USD.
Some estimates state that there has been a 2-3x increase in the amount of installed solar panels over the last 12 months in Pyongyang. The solar panels combined with battery storage are now providing some stability for North Korean households.