Thirty years after the Chernobyl disaster, the Ukranian government is considering revisiting the site as an energy source. Only this time, they would be using solar panels.
There aren't many economic options for the region, which became uninhabitable after resulted in at least 5 percent of the area's nuclear plant radioactive core getting released inadvertently. An exclusion zone of 1,000 square miles—the size of Luxembourg—was created. The abandoned land has become something of an .
A solar farm would have political ramifications for the Ukraine, which has long sought to ween its dependence on Russian oil. Ukraine's neighbor, Belarus, has already begun plans to build a solar farm on land affected by Chernobyl, to garner enough electricity to power its capital city, Minsk. The European Bank for Reconstruction & Development is considering funding the Ukrainian efforts, according to Bloomberg.
There is, of course, the not-insignificant issue of who would work at a Chernobyl-based solar farm. While there are some distinct advantages to working at Chernobyl, specifically that there's already an infrastructure in place for transmitting power, the site is .
Tourists have been allowed in since 2011, and so have workers decommissioning the site. However, the costs of working in Chernobyl are high. It takes 7,000 people to do the work, going through short shifts so they aren't exposed to too much radiation. Even after a solar farm is built, it requires constant maintenance. from vegetation overgrowth (which has already taken over so much of the Chernobyl region) to broken conduits to snow falling on panels can make a solar farm require constant care.
Despite the difficulties, Ukrainian officials are optimistic. Developers plan on installing four megawatts worth of panels on the site by the end of the year.