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Solar power brings Chernobyl powerlines back to life with 1MW installed [Gallery]

Ukraine’s repurposing of 1GW of electricity transmission infrastructure, located in the Chernobyl nuclear exclusion zone, has passed a milestone of installing its first solar power plant – a 1MW plant.

It is a special plant because it is located a mere 100 meters away from the world’s largest movable structure – the Chernobyl Sarcophagus – that will seal in nuclear radiation from the still radioactive nuclear material.

In the summer of 2016, Ukraine announced plans for the world’s largest solar power plant in the Chernobyl nuclear wasteland. This project was suggested to take advantage of the power infrastructure that was built to move the nuclear generated electricity into the country. Of course, after the 1986 meltdown – and the eventual total shutdown of the plant in 2000 – that equipment was abandoned along with 2,600km2 of land. The plant covers about 4 acres of lands – there are 247 acres in a single km2.

In 2017, Belarus built a 4.2MW solar power in its irradiated area, which borders the Ukrainian zone.

In the primary image below you can see the large structure behind the construction worker. That’s the sarcophagus. When it was put in place last year, radiation fell by 90%.

Embed from Getty Images

Since the land is still dangerous to work around, precautions are still necessary. The solar panels are fixed onto a base of concrete blocks rather than placed on the ground. The strict safety rules forbid drilling or digging into the earth, as the soil remains contaminated.

Note the base of the fence in front of the solar panels in the Feature Image.

The first work on the site was specifically to manage contamination:

“Installation of ballast blocks for metal structures (to sit upon) is being carried out, as well installation of plates under fence poles has been carried out, preparatory work is underway for erection of metal structures, installation of a ballast foundation for complete transformer substations.”

The land can’t be used for agriculture, and it’s been suggested people cannot return for 24,000 years.

This solar power installation at Chernobyl is separate from another 1GW national program, but part of a larger effort by the country to break itself of an addiction to Russian energy. Up until the beginning of 2017, the country had installed 568MW of solar power as part of a €15 billion investment program for renewable energy. In 2017 another MW across 54 new projects was built.

Embed from Getty Images

The Chernobyl project began construction on November 1st, and most other images – see above – of construction looked very similar to projects I’ve been on. In fact, the solar concrete structure is similar to what I’ve used on landfills – where we’re not allowed to break layers.

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