- It’s the 32nd anniversary of the Chernobyl disaster. Now the site is being developed into a solar farm.
- Two companies have a contract to start building a one-megawatt solar farm next month, and they’re planning on adding 99 more megawatts in the future.
- The Ukrainian government is offering incentives for renewable energy companies to develop the abandoned land.
Thirty-two years ago to the day, a radioactive release 10 times larger than the Hiroshima bomb forced hundreds of thousands of people to permanently evacuate the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Now the abandoned site is about to start generating power again. But instead of nuclear energy, Chernobyl will be home to photovoltaic solar panels, Bloomberg reports.
Rodina Energy Group, a Ukrainian firm, and Enerparc Ag, a German clean energy company, announced in December the joint development of a $US1.2 million project to build a one-megawatt solar farm on the site (enough to power about 200 households), just a few hundred feet from the deactivated reactor.
Construction began earlier this year, and the plant will come online in the first half of 2018.
The Ukrainian government is incentivizing companies to develop in Chernobyl by offering cheap land and high feed-in tariffs – the amount the companies are paid for feeding electricity into the grid.
In 2016, the government announced a plan to redevelop 1,000 square miles of abandoned land around Chernobyl. The soil is still too radioactive for farming, but the area is still connected to Ukraine’s major population centres with power lines that were laid in the 1970s. That makes the site ideal for renewable energy development.
The Ukrainian government is paying Rodinia and Enerparc 15 euro cents, or 18 cents, per kilowatt-hour of electricity generated, which is almost 40 per cent higher than the average cost of solar in Europe, Bloomberg reports.
The companies, along with other partners, eventually plan to develop up to 99 more megawatts of solar on the site.
While it’s a positive move, that’s still a far cry from Chernobyl’s electricity output prior to the 1986 disaster. At the time of the accident, Chernobyl had four 1,000-megawatt reactors, with a fifth in the works.
While Chernobyl and the surrounding towns have sat abandoned, wildlife has flourished in the area. The number of animals there is now higher than it was 32 years ago.
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