Ukrainian government to turn the ghost town of Chernobyl into enormous solar farm

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According to a recent announcement, the government of Ukraine is gearing up to revive the wasteland surrounding the former Chernobyl power plant as a massive solar farm. Nearly 30 years after a nuclear catastrophe wrecked the city of Pripyat, located around 100 km (approx. 62 mi) from the country’s capital Kiev, officials are planning to turn the now-deserted ghost town into a renewable energy farm equipped with a huge array of solar panels.

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Although in its nascent stage, the plan would allow the nation to bring over 2,600-sq-km (about 1,000-sq-mi) of radioactive land that was declared unfit for human settlement back into use. Furthermore, the initiative could help reduce Ukraine’s dependence on Russia, by making solar power cheaper and more widely available. Speaking about the project, which is currently in search of funding, Ostap Semerak, the country’s environmental minister, said:

The Chernobyl site has really good potential for renewable energy. We already have high-voltage transmission lines that were previously used for the nuclear stations, the land is very cheap and we have many people trained to work at power plants.

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On April 26 of 1986, an explosion at the Chernobyl Power Plant in the then Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic resulted in the release of radioactive particles in lethal doses, making it the worst nuclear meltdown until the more recent Fukushima Daiichi disaster in Japan. Its aftermath saw the entire city of Pripyat and the surrounding region being evacuated. Since then, the area has remained an abandoned wasteland, something that the new plan is hoping to change.

In order to make the deserted land viable once again, the country’s government is getting ready to construct a giant solar farm, which at its full capacity could generate more than 4 megawatts of power. According to a report by the California Energy Commission, a single megawatt can meet the energy demands of nearly 750 to 1,000 households. Once operational, the solar farm could therefore provide electricity to a large section of Ukraine’s population.

In addition to making cheap, renewable energy more easily available, the initiative could help reduce the nation’s dependence on Russia for natural gas, enabling it to be a part of the European Union. Semerak was reported saying:

We have normal European priorities, which means having the best standards with the environment and clean energy ambitions. We want to be a successful Ukraine, to show people in the conflict zone that life is better and more comfortable with us.

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At present, the government is holding talks with four Canada-based energy developers and two American firms for the purpose of acquiring funds. Nothing much has been revealed as to how the energy farm will actually be constructed, given that the region is still highly contaminated. In fact, according to a 2015 study, the radiation levels in milk produced in dairies along the peripheries of the exclusion zone were found to nearly 10 times the acceptable range, meaning that the area is still extremely unsafe even for construction laborers working only part-time.

If everything does indeed go according to plan, officials point out that the farm’s construction and operation will not affect the area’s wildlife in any way. Curious to find out how the ghost town of Chernobyl looks today? Watch the following video:

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