Chernobyl has been reclaimed to some degree this week as a long-awaited plan to install solar at the site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history has become a reality. The new solar park at the Chernobyl reactor location was officially opened on Friday, three decades after the nuclear meltdown at the same location.
Three decades after nuclear disaster, Chernobyl goes solar https://t.co/TAD1n1N7qJ
— Reuters (@Reuters) October 5, 2018
The area remains largely uninhabitable, so the prospect of installing solar panels that can generate power with little to no interaction from humans was a lucrative proposition. The installation further capitalizes on the existing assets in the area by tapping into existing power transmission lines connected to the site.
Two years ago, a monolithic arch structure weighing in at some 36,000 tonnes (!!!) was installed over the top of the old nuclear power station as a means of containing the radiation that continued to spill from the failed reactor several decades after the initial failure.
Installing the massive new shield represented the largest mobile human-made structure ever constructed and was a race against time as the construction team worked to install the new structure before the original structure collapsed. The installation of the new shield kept the epicenter of the meltdown contained, enabling the surrounding land to be cleared of materials from the old nuclear reactor facility.
A New Hope
The solar installation brings new hope to the region and to Ukraine as a symbolic first sign of life in a region that has been shamed by the nuclear meltdown since 1986 and unused for power generation since 2000. The 1MW installation is comprised of 3,800 panels that provide power to residents living in the area.
“It’s not just another solar power plant,” Evhen Variagin, the chief executive of Solar Chernobyl LLC, was quote as saying on Reuters. “It’s really hard to underestimate the symbolism of this particular project.”
The $1.2 million project taps into regional feed-in tariffs that guarantee power being generated from the otherwise unusable land to guarantee a return on the investment. These same feed-in tariffs have catalyzed a significant increase in renewables capacity being installed in Ukraine, with more than 500 MW of renewables capacity installed in Ukraine in 2018 through September.
Source: Reuters UK