April 26th will be the 31st anniversary of the Chornobyl nuclear disaster. For that time, most of the land in the exclusion zone has gone unused. But now, Ukraine is making plans to reclaim the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone for safer forms of energy. Speaking to the media earlier in April, the head of Ukraine’s state agency on Chernobyl exclusion zone management, Vitaliy Petruk, announced that the agency was looking into using the empty territory for a solar energy farm.
“Concerning those territories which are the closest to the (Chornobyl) nuclear plant, we need to find ways to make the best use of them for our country. We thought, taking into account the available flat land which used to be used for farming, and has not been covered in trees, what could we do to make it maximally useful for the country? And we came up with an initiative to create a park of solar energy,” says Vitaliy Petruk, Head of State Agency on Chornobyl Exclusion Zone Management
While Petruk did not go into much more detail, two Chinese firms presented plans to build a solar energy plant in the Chornobyl Exclusion Zone last year. They plan on beginning with construction start at some time in 2017.
Petruk emphasized that the exclusion zone already has the infrastructure for energy projects and a large community of energy experts who are ready to begin working on the new solar plant:
We need a lot of space for solar energy, we need infrastructure, we need qualified people who can work in the energy sector. We have all of that on the territory of the exclusion zone. Chornobyl plant is an enterprise with professionals who have knowledge in the energy sector.
On April 26th, 1986, an unsafe stress test led to a nuclear meltdown at the Chornobyl nuclear power plant that spread radioactive material all over Europe. A thousand square miles around the plant was evacuated, forcing 50,000 people to leave their home. The effects of the disaster are still felt today, especially in neighboring Belarus where northward winds blew most of the radiation.