Ukraine is almost done constructing its first renewable energy plant, the Chernobyl solar plant.
For over three decades, Ukraine has been haunted by the aftermath of the catastrophic nuclear accident T Chernobyl, a city found near the country’s northern border with Belarus. But now, the Ukrainian government has made the necessary steps to make use of the abandoned nuclear power plant and transform it into a source of renewable energy-the Chernobyl solar plant.
According to reports, a massive solar plant is near completion within the so-called ground zero of Ukraine’s Chernobyl disaster. It will be the country’s first solar plant and attempt to put the nuclear wasteland to good use, providing one megawatt of renewable power to the local electricity grid soon after its launch.#Ukraine is almost done building its first solar plant located in #ChernobylClick To Tweet
“This solar power plant can cover the needs of a medium-sized village,” or about 2,000 flats, Yevgen Varyagin, the head of the Ukrainian-German company, Solar Chernobyl, which carried out the project, told AFP.
The Chernobyl Solar Plant
To date, the Chernobyl reactor explosion that happened in April 1986 is considered as one of the most cataclysmic nuclear disasters in history. However, the government hopes that the installation of the solar power plant will make the site environmentally helpful rather than harmful.
The plant is situated one hundred meters away from the new sarcophagus or the Object Shelter, a metal dome built and designed to prevent radiation from the remains of the nuclear power plant from leaking.
According to Varyagin, the solar installation is set to be fully operational within a few weeks. Solar Chernobyl has already spent one million euros on the structure which is composed of 3,800 solar panels installed across 1.6 hectares of land area (approximately the size of two football fields). The company remains hopeful that its investment will provide returns over the next seven years.
While construction is on-going within the disaster zone, authorities have said that it would still take over 24,000 years for the place to become safe and habitable again for humans.
However, the installation of the dome funded by the international community above the ruins of the old reactor significantly helped make the solar project possible. According to authorities, the Shelter Object has supposedly reduced the radiation near the nuclear plant to one-tenth of its previous level.
Still, precautionary measures have been put in place. For instance, the solar panels are said to be fixed onto a base of concrete blocks instead of the ground. This is because the soil within the ground zero is still contaminated.
“We cannot drill or dig here because of the strict safety rules,” Varyagin explained.
Currently, the Ukrainian government is offering 25 square kilometers of Chernobyl land to investors for solar power development. The government has already received 60 proposals from foreign companies. Oleksandr Kharchenko, executive director of the Energy Industry Research Center, said that the solar electricity price set by Ukraine is primarily the reason why investors are attracted to the land.
Despite the number of investment proposals, Kharchenko said there is still no rush of western investors to the region because of safety concerns, bureaucracy, and corruption. For now, the country is focusing on completing the Chernobyl solar plant and making the disaster zone safe for workers.
“It shouldn’t be a black hole in the middle of Ukraine,” Varyagin told Bloomberg.