The Ukraine has started transforming the radioactive wasteland around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant into a huge solar farm.
The government wants to install enough panels inside the exclusion zone to produce 2.5 gigawatts of power – equivalent to about half the capacity of the plant before the fourth reactor exploded in 1986.
Ecology minister Ostap Semerak said that the plans were already being put into action. A Ukranian-German company has invested $1.1 million in the station’s construction. It should start producing electricity by the end of June and have the capacity of 1.5 megawatts. This is just a small part of the wider $1.1B Chernobyl energy project that includes a biogas facility and up to 12,500 acres of solar panels.
Semerak said the idea was to change the perception of Chernobyl from a zone of disasters to one of the new development. Fifty companies have expressed an interest in investing. The zone is now considered safe for short visits and tourists can tour the ruins of the abandoned town of Pripyat. Wildlife has flourished and rare species have returned to the site. Agriculture, on the other hand, is still impossible because there are radioactive isotopes in the soil.