On April 26, 1986, the largest nuclear disaster in history occurred at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. After a defective reactor exploded, a large radioactive cloud spewed over much of Europe, leaving parts of Ukraine and Belarus uninhabitable. 31 people were directly killed as a result of the accident, but it is estimated that thousands have since died due to related causes.

Immediately following the incident, about 115,000 people were evacuated from a 1,000-square-mile exclusion zone, effectively turning the town of Pripyat into a ghostly ruin.

Approximately two years ago, a giant steel “sarcophagus” was placed over Chernobyl’s damaged reactor to lock in remaining fallout. This has made it possible for parts of Ukraine to be reclaimed. In fact, a €1m solar energy plant has been built 100 meters away from the facility, and it will begin operating within weeks.

Credit: EcoWatch

The Independent reports that the one-megawatt plant, which is the first solar energy plant to be built in Ukraine, is fitted with 3,800 photovoltaic panels across an area equivalent to the size of two football pitches. Because drilling and digging in the region is forbidden, as the soil is still contaminated, the solar panels have been fixed to concrete slabs. 

Yevgen Varyagin, head of Solar Chernobyl, the Ukranian-German company behind the project, told AFP:

“This solar power plant can cover the needs of a medium-sized village.”

The new solar power plant is one of 60 proposals submitted to authorities since the Ukrainian government made land around Chernobyl available for solar power developments. The site has long been connected to the grid because of the infamous disaster.

It is the Ukrainian’s government desire to “make use” of the large swathe of land around Chernobyl. Said Varyagin in 2016:

“Bit by bit we want to optimise the Chernobyl zone. It shouldn’t be a black hole in the middle of Ukraine.”

Credit: The Australian

This isn’t the first solar plant for Solar Chernobyl. The company already operates a 4.2-megawatt plant in the nearby city of Belarus, which falls within the radiation zone. Let’s hope the modern Chernobyl is known for solar power rather than a nuclear disaster.

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h/t The Independent, AFP