Since 2000, the power plant at Chernobyl has been inactive. Even after the infamous meltdown in 1986, the other nuclear reactors at the facility continued operating until the turn of the century. But for 18 years, Chernobyl has been nothing but an abandoned wasteland. A newly-completed project changes that, however, and thanks to 3,800 installed solar panels Chernobyl can supply Ukraine with power once more.
Two years ago a handful of companies proposed a solar farm in Chernobyl. On paper it makes sense: the land isn’t being used for anything else, and most of the infrastructure to carry power is still in place from the nuclear plant. All a company would have to do is hook solar panels up to the new power grid to harness its full potential.
A handful of other incentives from the Ukrainian government, like low land costs and high electricity prices, made a solar farm an easy investment for two European power companies. Ukrainian company Rodina and German company Enerparc AG jointly formed Solar Chernobyl, a new company dedicated to running the solar farm in Ukraine.
The solar panels were installed only a few hundred feet from the reactor that melted down in the 1986 disaster. The farm itself cost around $1.2 million and supplies 1 megawatt of power to the country, or enough electricity for about 2,000 homes. Eventually, the plan is to produce around 100 megawatts at the site.
The solar plant provides much needed electricity to Ukraine, which suffered from the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014. Ukraine had about 170 megawatts of solar power installed in Crimea before the annexation, and has since been forced to buy natural gas from Russia to compensate. This solar plant in Chernobyl should help make the country a bit more energy-independent.
Originally posted on Popular Mechanics