Guest essay by Eric Worrall
One of the problems with renewables is the enormous amount of space renewable installations require. Gathering low intensity power requires a lot of real-estate. But solar entrepreneurs and the Ukrainian Government think they have a solution – they want to build the world’s largest solar plant on land nobody in their right mind would want; the site of the Chernobyl Nuclear Disaster.
Chernobyl could be reinvented as a solar farm, says Ukraine
Ministers create presentation to show how idle land around nuclear disaster site can be used to produce renewable energy.
The contaminated nuclear wasteland around Chernobyl could be turned into one of the world’s largest solar farms, producing nearly a third of the electricity that the stricken plant generated at its height 30 years ago, according to the Ukrainian government.
In a presentation sent to major banks and seen by the Guardian, 6,000 hectares of “idle” land in Chernobyl’s 1,000 square km exclusion zone, which is considered too dangerous for people to live in or farm, could be turned to solar, biogas and heat and power generation.
Pressure has been mounting for years to allow industrial development, but no indication is given of where the solar panels would be located. “There has been a change in the perception of the exclusion zone in Ukraine. Thirty years after the Chernobyl tragedy [it] reveals opportunities for development. A special industrial area is to be created in compliance with all rules and regulations of radiation safety within the exclusion zone,” says the presentation.
The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) this week indicated it would be prepared to lend money for the renewable energy plan. The EBRD has already provided more than $500m (£379m) to build a large stainless steel “sarcophagus” over the destroyed reactor, which will remain dangerous for thousands of years.
The Ukraine is desperately poor, so the Ukrainian government should have no problem finding thousands of workers willing to risk their health, to construct this new green power monstrosity.
And who knows, maybe the idea will catch on – no doubt there are other highly contaminated industrial disaster sites around the world, which could be profitably converted into renewable installations.