The Chernobyl nuclear disaster site is turning eco-friendly with a rather small, but promising solar energy plant about to go live. The eco-friendly solar power generation plant is being promised as first of many to come up at the Exclusion Zone. Interestingly, with the advancement in solar power generation, the proposed Chernobyl solar power plants could collectively generate about half the energy that the ill-fated nuclear reactor once produced before its core melted.
Ukraine is quietly mourning the 31st anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Incidentally, April 26 has been designated as the “International Chernobyl Disaster Remembrance Day,” confirmed UN. The day is supposed to draw attention to the nuclear disaster that spewed radioactive material across 155,000 square kilometers.
At this moment in 1986—1:23am local time, April 26—Chernobyl’s Reactor No. 4 in Pripyat, Ukraine, exploded during an unapproved experiment. pic.twitter.com/DBC1NZi6xT
— Stephen Schwartz (@AtomicAnalyst) April 25, 2017
Countries including Belarus, Russia, and Ukraine are still struggling to protect its citizens more than three decades after the incident. They continue to plead the United Nations to strengthen international cooperation to study, mitigate and minimize the consequences of the disaster. Fortunately, Ukraine is slowly re-purposing the Exclusion Zone, and attempting to make better use of the region that will continue to remain off-limits to the general public for several decades, if not centuries.
A rather small solar power energy harvesting plant is about to go live in Ukraine, reported VOA News. Confirming the construction of the same, Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of ecology said,
“Today, almost a year after we have started the work, I can announce the first private investment project working in the Chernobyl zone to build a small solar energy plant.”
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Never again. It’s 31 years today since the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. 1000s died, communities destroyed & environmental damage left behind. pic.twitter.com/Tx88wDI2kw
— CND (@CNDuk) April 26, 2017
The solar energy plant is expected to start harvesting solar energy starting May. Although the technology hasn’t been openly discussed, experts indicate the solar energy plant doesn’t employ solar panels that directly convert incident solar rays into electricity. Instead, the plant could be employing solar reflectors that reflect the sunlight to a singular point high in the air. The temperature of this point rises substantially, and oil housed within, is directed to boilers that heat up water. The high-pressure steam generated through this technique is used to drive generators that in turn, produce electricity.
Surprisingly, the solar energy plant at Ukraine’s Exclusion Zone isn’t an experiment. While the plant is indeed built as a trial, there are several private enterprises that are keenly interested to setup similar eco-friendly power plants that would utilize the ample sunlight that hits the region. According to Semerak, more than 50 companies have expressed interest. In fact, these companies, ranging from small startups to large energy conglomerates, have submitted applications to erect solar farm in the Exclusion Zone.
— David Hulme (@DrDavidHulme) April 27, 2017
If the solar energy plants start functioning at capacity, they could collectively produce half the power that was once produced by the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the early days, claimed Semerak.
“Cumulatively, those would be enough to produce 2.5 gigawatts of power, which would be 2,500 megawatts. This is comparable to the output by two units of a nuclear power plant. This is about half the capacity which the Chernobyl power plant had before the disaster.”
[Featured Image by Sergei Supinsky/Getty Images]