Radioactive land around Chernobyl to sprout solar investments

Enlarge / In this aerial view electricity pylons stand near the new enclosure built over reactor number four at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant on August 19, 2017 near Chernobyl, Ukraine. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images) (credit: Getty Images)

A mere 100 meters (328 feet) from the damaged reactor at Chernobyl in Ukraine, a one-megawatt, $1.2 million solar panel installation will likely be commissioned next month, according to Bloomberg. Back in summer 2016, the Ukrainian government said it was eager to get solar projects on the 1,000 square miles of radioactive land, and Ukrainian engineering firm Rodina Energy Group appears set to be an early arrival on the scene.

A solar installation makes sense in the shadow of the nuclear energy plant whose reactor exploded in 1986. The land is too radioactive for farming, or hunting, or forestry, and transmission lines that were intended to send electricity from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant to the rest of Ukraine are already in place. Rodina and its partner Enerparc AG, a German financing company, plan to spend up to €100 million (or $119 million) to build renewable energy in Chernobyl’s exclusion zone.

Rodina isn’t the only company looking to take up the Ukrainian government’s offer of cheap land. A year ago, two Chinese companies announced a plan to build a huge 1 GW solar farm in Chernobyl's exclusion zone, although the companies seem to have made little movement on that plan thus far. In July of this year, French energy company Energie SA also announced plans to conduct a pre-feasibility study for a billion-euro solar plant near Chernobyl. Ukraine’s minister of ecology told Bloomberg at the time that more than 60 companies had expressed interest in building renewable energy in the vicinity of Chernobyl.

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