Chernobyl nuclear site is converted into new solar plant

Published: 16 Jan 2018 By Matt Cook

At the site of the Chernobyl disaster zone, site workers are busy completing the finishing touches to the first solar power plant in Ukraine. The new 1MW solar power plant consisting of nearly 4000 PV panels is located just a few hundred meters from the site containing the remains of the Chernobyl accident.

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The head of Solar Chernobyl, the Ukrainian-German operated company to state the new solar plant will be capable of meeting the needs of a medium-sized village. The company has announced the project is nearing completion and due to be operational within a few weeks.
 
The business has spent in excess of one million euros on the new solar site which covers an area in excess of 1.6 hectares. The business believes the site will pay for itself within seven years and increase solar production by nearly 100 times.


In the last few years, Ukraine has halted purchasing natural gas from Russia and instead is interested in developing the uninhabitable Chernobyl exclusion zone.
 
Whilst the area cannot be used for agriculture it is very suitable for new and innovative projects. The Ukrainian Minister of Environment has placed a lot of focus on developing the solar industry and other solar projects across Ukraine.
 
About a year ago, a huge dome was developed close to the ruins of the originally damaged reactor. The facility covers the original structure and provided greater isolation of high radiation levels in the reactor. Since the dome was added, radiation levels have reduced significantly to approximately one-tenth of the original levels.
Despite the reduction, precautions are still completely necessary and developers have ensured all solar panels are fixed to a base of concrete blocks rather than on the ground as scientists believe the soil remains contaminated.


The authorities of Ukraine has offered investors over 2000 hectares of potential land for the construction of solar power plants in Chernobyl. Ukraine has currently received nearly 60 proposals from international companies including plans from US, France, China, and Denmark.
The area is attracting global investment attention due to price levels set for solar power in Ukraine, which is approximately half the prices in elsewhere in Europe. Combined with cheap land and proximity to power grids makes development on Chernobyl land very attractive.
 
However, many investors continue to be cautious of the region due to safety concerns and dealing with legislation and policies in Ukraine. Foreign investors require guarantees and assurance that working in this zone will be safe and until this is clearly met will create a barrier to any further investment into Chernobyl.

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