Monday, January 23, 2017

Solar Power May Rise from Chernobyl Ashes

Earth's greatest nuclear catastrophe occurred at Chernobyl, Ukraine in 1986 when a reactor meltdown and fire contaminated 1000km² of land including the company town of Pripyat and exposed most of northern Europe to fallout, reaching as far as Whales. The disaster directly killed 50 people and at least 4,000 have died from radiation exposure. Now, thanks to two Chinese companies, a solar farm generating one 1500gW of clean, renewable energy is planned for 2500 hectares 10 km south of the reactor remains. Ukraine officials say they will spend up to $1 billion on the project over the next two years. Remaining electrical transmission facilities will be used to distribute the green power.

The zone of disaster has been attracting an increasing number of tourists, anxious to see for themselves what man's folly wrought, or to catch a glimpse of returning wildlife ranging from wild ponies to wolves, elk (moose), boar, bears and bison.[photos credit: Guardian] Radiation levels have subsided enough in some areas for the government to consider what to do with 6000 hectares of vacant land. Recently a huge stainless steel sarcophagus was wheeled into place over the reactor hulks to replace a crumbling, temporary concrete structure.  Most proposals concern industrial uses as residential use is still considered too dangerous.  Sunlight is as strong in this area of northern Ukraine as it is in southern Germany, one of the world's biggest producers of solar power.