Could a new solar farm transform the Chernobyl nuclear site into an abundance of renewable energy?
The Chernobyl nuclear plant exploded 30 years ago, and the wasteland is still unsafe for humans and wildlife. Today, however, plans are underway to put the area to use as a solar farm. Scientists say that the land won’t be suitable for living for at least 20,000 years, but the site could work well as a large-scale photovoltaic power station.
The Ukrainian government is still in talks with investors, but the first step, installing a four-megawatt solar energy system, should be completed by the end of 2016. Ideally, this innovative photovoltaic concept will become a model for nations around the world.
Advantages of Turning Chernobyl into a Solar Farm
For obvious reasons, the land in Chernobyl comes cheap.
The exclusion zone isn’t safe for living, growing food, raising livestock or even logging. But photovoltaic panels can produce safe, free electricity there, despite the contamination.
That alone might not mean much, if it weren’t for the other advantages of turning the Chernobyl site into a solar farm.
The equipment to transmit electricity is normally expensive to install. But because the area used to house a nuclear power plant, the transmission equipment is already in place.
The solar farm concept offers amazing potential for the nearby city of Kiev.
With a population of more than 3 million, Kiev has the highest power needs in the Ukraine. If Chernobyl is developed into a solar power plant, it could generate 1,000 megawatts of photovoltaic power, enough to supply low-cost electricity to hundreds of thousands of Kiev residents.
Concerns About Building a Solar Farm at the Chernobyl Site
Despite the many potential advantages, some residents of the Ukraine feel that the Chernobyl wasteland may not be an ideal site to build a solar farm.
The area is still deadly, with dangerously high radiation levels in some areas. Consequently, the photovoltaic contractors installing the solar equipment would have to wear full-body protective suits. Not only would that make it difficult to work, but this gear doesn’t offer protection from gamma radiation.
In addition, with the Russian military buildup around Ukraine’s borders, the area is under ongoing threat — a fact some investors find disconcerting.
Other Unused Land that Could Host a Solar Farm
Japan has expanses of unused rice paddies, and a plan is in place to turn many of them into solar farms. Experts estimate that if just 20 percent of these sites are converted, the photovoltaic energy produced could replace the 50 million kilowatts of power Japan’s utility grid generates.
In the United States, investors are exploring transforming closed landfills into solar farms.
We have thousands of undevelopable closed landfills throughout the country that could be suitable for photovoltaic installations. Cities in several states, including Nevada and Colorado, have already taken steps to turn these unusable spots into solar power plants.
On a local level, Intermountain Wind & Solar helps both residential and commercial customers make the easy and cost-effective transition to photovoltaic solar. Contact us today to learn more about how you can put this energy alternative to work for you.
And watch your local news to learn more about how the world’s energy landscape is changing, thanks to innovative projects like solar farms.