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article imageChernobyl nuclear site could become a giant solar farm

By Tim Sandle     Aug 13, 2016 in Technology
The Chernobyl nuclear power site was one of the most deadly in history. The abandoned area could not be turned into a giant solar power farm.
The Ukrainian government is drawing up plans to convert the 1,600 square mile “exclusion zone” surrounding the former Chernobyl nuclear power station to construct one of world’s largest solar power plants. The news is likely to appeal to those who favor 'greener' sources of energy over fossil fuels and nuclear power.
The Chernobyl disaster was a catastrophic nuclear accident. On April 26, 1986, an accident happened at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant in the city of Pripyat (which was then part of the Ukrainian Soviet Socialist Republic of the Soviet Union; now it is within the independent country Ukraine). An explosion and subsequent fire caused the release of large quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere. The radioactive waste spread over a large area, covering western USSR and most of Europe. According to Greenpeace, at least 100,000 people died from cancer as a result of the incident.
Today the plant is cordoned off, still containing dangerous levels of radiation and will not be safe for human life for around 20,000 years. Around the plant is a circular area of 30 kilometers, officially called the "zone of alienation", and in effect an exclusion zone. This area has largely reverted to forest.
Despite the conditions, the Ukrainian government are keen to develop the area in order to generate power. Officials are in negotiations with with four Canadian energy firms to build a 1 gigawatt-hours solar plant. This could become the largest in the world.
Ukraine’s ecology minister, Ostap Semerak is quoted as saying: "The Chernobyl site has really good potential for renewable energy", adding what the existing advantages are: "we already have high-voltage transmission lines that were previously used for the nuclear stations, the land is very cheap and we have many people trained to work at power plants."
The logistics will be difficult and workers would need to wear protective suits and be carefully monitored. Given the potential power generation, those involved think the scheme is feasible.
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