More than thirty years after the infamous disaster, the Chernobyl exclusion zone might be transforming from an abandoned nuclear wasteland to a green energy hub.
A $1.2 million, 1-megawatt solar farm project is expected to be commissioned next month to be built over 1,000 square miles of radioactive land in Ukraine, according to an article in Newsweek.
“Its cheap land and abundant sunlight constitutes a solid foundation for the project,” Ukraine’s minister of environment and natural resources Ostap Semerak said last October. “In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities are ready for reuse.”
The solar farm will be 100 meters from the damaged nuclear reactor. The land has been restricted since the reactor explosion in 1986. Chernobyl is considered one of the worst nuclear disasters in history. A $1.6 billion arch built by French consortium Novarka, called the New Safe Confinement, was placed over the damaged reactor to protect the environment from radiation.
Rodina Energy Group, a Ukrainian engineering firm, and Enerparc, a German renewable energy company, are partnering on the project, which is one of several solar initiatives planned for the area.
“Bit by bit we want to optimize the Chernobyl zone,” said Rodina CEO Evgeny Variagin in a Bloomberg article. “It shouldn’t be a black hole in the middle of Ukraine.”
In 2016, two Chinese companies announced their plan to construct a $1 billion, 1-gigawatt solar power plant within the exclusion zone. GCL System Integration Technology Co. Ltd., a subsidiary of energy group GCL, and China National Complete Engineering Corp., a subsidiary of state-owned National Machinery Industry Corp., are collaborating on the project, according to Solar Industry Magazine. GLC will supply and install solar panels while China National Machinery Corporation will build and run the plant.
“There will be remarkable social benefits and economic ones as we try to renovate the once-damaged area with green and renewable energy. We are glad that we are making joint efforts with Ukraine to rebuild the community for the local people,” said chairman of GCL-SI Shu Hua in Solar Industry Magazine. The Chernobyl project is a key step in the company’s global expansion.