Solar power for Chernobyl exclusion zone

Chernobyl is notorious as the site of the world’s worst nuclear power disaster. The 1986 explosion and meltdown in the Ukraine released vast quantities or radiation over the USSR and Europe contaminating approximately 100,000km2 of land with fallout. Today, a 260 hectare exclusion zone including several ghost cities lays testament to the impact of such a catastrophe.

I personally experienced this when I was backpacking through Germany shortly afterwards and was confronted with the choice of buying expensive tomatoes or cheap ones that had a radiation warning attached.

Suffice to say, I bought the expensive ones and never took energy for granted again.

So it was ironic to hear that almost thirty years on, solar is now being seen as a use for the exclusion zone.  The Ukraine’s acting Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources announced this week that a Memorandum of Understanding had been signed with Vipiemme Solar SRL to install a 500kW pilot in the exclusion zone with a vision in place for up to 200MW.

Solar power, wind power and biomass for energy are all being tested in the zone which cannot be used for agricultural purposes or any other activity requiring people to stay in the area for extended periods. This is where solar power equipped with remote monitoring could be an ideal solution with its lack of moving parts, minimal maintenance requirements and rapid deployment.

Although it took the USSR almost 30 years to make the switch, Japan has also realised that switching from nuclear power to solar power can make sense too. Although it’s early days, several small solar farms have emerged in the wake of Fukushima’s own nuclear meltdown, once again proving to be one of the few energy replacement technologies that can be deployed quickly and safely on contaminated ground.

Top image by S. Gaschak via Wilkipedia

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Nigel Morris