Chernobyl May Be Turned Into A Solar Farm

Hundreds of thousands of people were evacuated from the city of Pripyat after the reactor exploded. LaVon/Shutterstock

Three decades after the evacuation of more than 350,000 people, parts of the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone may finally be put to use again. The zone that has slowly been reclaimed by nature and wildlife could be the new site of a solar and renewable energy park, if government ministers are able to get enough funding.

The region was evacuated when the reactor ruptured, spewing radioactive fallout into the atmosphere. At around 2,600 square kilometers (1,000 square miles), the exclusion zone – around the size of Luxembourg – has remained abandoned ever since. Yet when the people moved out, the wildlife moved in. A recent study looking into the animals that have reclaimed the deserted landscape found that wild horses, boar, and even wolves are now flourishing in the absence of man.


Thirty years on, and solar seems like one of the few viable industries that could take place within the exclusion zone. The return of people to the area is unlikely anytime soon, considering that farming and forestry is ruled out as too dangerous due to the high levels of radiation in the plants, meaning that tourism of the town is now becoming the mainstay of the region. But by turning over parts of the region to solar farms, it is hoped that Ukraine can start to harvest sunshine instead.

The city of Pripyat was abandoned 30 years ago. vichev_alex/Shutterstock

The government is so far seeking investors to help fund the project, which, according to the Guardian, plans on converting 6,000 hectares to renewable energy generation, including solar and biogas production. “The Chernobyl site has really good potential for renewable energy,” Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s environment minister, told Bloomberg. “We already have high-voltage transmission lines that were previously used for the nuclear stations, the land is very cheap and we have many people trained to work at power plants.”

The government has been under increasing pressure to do something with the idle land, and with a desire to reduce reliance on Russia for power – who still sells them vast amounts of natural gas – they are thought to be at least in part behind the new project. With the events that occurred in Crimea, it is understood that the Ukrainian government may be looking to align themselves more with Western Europe, and their renewable energy goals, than with Russia.


The plan is not exactly without precedent either, as just across the border in Belarus, a region that received some of the highest levels of radioactive fallout following the meltdown, construction is already underway on a solar plant. The plan for Chernobyl is currently seeking funding, but there are hopes to start work by the end of the year.



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