Solar Panels at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant? Surprisingly, Yes!

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It has been over 30 years since the world’s worst nuclear disaster took place in Chernobyl, Ukraine. On April 25, 1986, the Unit 4 reactor at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant was to be shut down for routine maintenance and to test equipment capability at the plant. However, one day later, the simulated power outage safety test would turn into the most catastrophic nuclear disaster in history. Improper safety precautions, poor plant design, and equipment failure resulted in a power surge that became the most catastrophic nuclear disaster in history.

The United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation determined that the immediate death toll as a result of the Chernobyl disaster was 54 deaths. The estimate does not include the deaths caused from the long term effects from radiation and the late health effects that resulted due to the disaster, which researchers estimate could push the death toll to the thousands.

The last remaining power plant in Chernobyl was shut down in 2000, and the remains of the Unit 4 reactor were sealed in a sarcophagus structure, and the area of land surrounding the disaster site is considered to be uninhabitable and unlivable for another 24,000 years.

Despite the current conditions of Chernobyl and the surrounding area, two European power companies are investing in a joint venture called Solar Chernobyl, a solar farm with 3,800 solar panels that will provide Ukraine with alternate energy.

Installation of the Solar Panels

The $1.2-million project would provide enough energy for approximately 2,000 homes by supplying one-megawatt of power to the Ukraine region. The solar farm is located within a short distance from the site where the nuclear meltdown took place 33 years ago. Photovoltaic panels stretch over four acres and provide the forbidden region with its first source power since the closure of the last nuclear plant nearly 20 years ago.

Engineers inspecting solar panels at Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in Ukraine

The solar energy park within Chernobyl was funded by a partnership between German company Enerparc AG, and Ukraine’s Rodina Energy Group. The solar plant utilizes existing power lines within the city of Chernobyl, and the project is the first attempt at rebuilding the abandoned site that was once responsible for the biggest nuclear disaster.

The affordability to house green projects is what is drawing interest from foreign investors to develop alternate energy sources in Ukraine. According to the Ukrainian Minister for the Environment and Natural Resources, investors from China, France, Germany, and other nations have expressed interest in investing in renewable energy projects.

Green Energry Growth in Ukraine

While Ukraine is still largely dependent on nuclear and coal to generate energy, Ukraine is considered a leader in the development of green energy growth, with a renewable power capacity of 2.1 gigawatts as of 2018.

Studies indicate that with the proper investment, roughly 90-percent of Ukraine’s power could be produced by alternate energy. The prospect of developing renewable energy sources in Ukraine has already attracted investments worth over $700-million. As a result, the country now boasts the capability of over 600 megawatts.

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