History will always remember the disaster that happened in Chernobyl many years ago. And up until now, we hear stories that involve mutation and all that scary-sounding stuff from this place.
However, we may change our perception of this former nuclear plant sooner or later because it has established a solar plant just across a power station where the disaster took place (but it has a safe confinement, don’t worry). Chernobyl can now produce energy to power 2,000 apartments or a medium sized village thanks to its 3,800 solar panels.
Sadly, it’s not a completely safe place since the contamination hasn’t subsided and if you want to explore the place, you still have to have guides who carry radiation meters. But considering that Chernobyl wants to be reborn as something that can save the Earth through its solar energy, I think we can sacrifice some things.
Evhen Variagin, the chief executive of Solar Chernobyl LLC told reporters, “It’s not just another solar power plant. It’s really hard to underestimate the symbolism of this particular project.”
About Solar Chernobyl LLC
Ukrainian company Rodina and Germany’s Enerparc AG collaborate together to build this one megawatt solar plant. This project cost about 1 million euros, benefiting from feed-in tariffs that guarantee a certain price for power.
The nuclear plant of Chernobyl was fully closed down in 2000 and lately, it’s the first time this site has produced power. The head of the former nuclear plant Valery Seyda said that he was pessimistic that Chernobyl could ever produce energy again.
“But now we are seeing a new sprout, still small, weak, producing power on this site and this is very joyful,” he said.
Solar Chernobyl project came during the sharp increase of investment in renewables in Ukraine. At some point in the previous year, there were more than 500 megawatt of renewable power capacity that was added in the country. The government said that it was twice as much as in 2017.
Yulia Kovaliv, head of the Office of the National Investment Council of Ukraine, said that investors wanted to get the benefits from a generous subsidy scheme before the next parliament could scrap it later.
“Investors expect that in the renewable energy sector facilities launched before 2019 will operate on the current (beneficial) system of green tariffs,” She told Reuters reporter on a conference in Odessa.
“And that is why investors want to buy ready-to-build projects in order to complete construction before that time,” Kovaliv went on.
The story of Chernobyl
If you’re not familiar with the story of Chernobyl, here’s a shorter version. There was a failed test at a reactor in 1986 and the plant sent clouds of nuclear material, forcing many to evacuate. A lot of people died because of acute radiation sickness as well as radiation-related sickness such as cancer. This place does not look good in resume, that’s for sure.
Before the solar plant was built, Chernobyl pulled a giant arch that weighs 36,000 tonnes over the nuclear power station in order to create a barrier that block radiation so that workers could dismantle the remains of the reactor safely.
As mentioned before, the last reactor (number 3) was shut down in 2000, and number four reactor was encased in large concrete sarcophagus not long after the incident. For some long years, Chernobyl power plant and its 2,200 square kilometers surrounding area had been empty.
It is possible that there would be no nuclear contamination in Chernobyl, but it takes about 24,000 years. So you can’t farm here, you can’t live here, but the empty area is fit for solar energy production.
There is an exclusion zone to prevent people from living there. And without human interference, nature and wildlife roam the area like cute dogs which have been sighted and found around Chernobyl (but we can’t actually pet them).
What to do in Chernobyl
Now, if you ever want to visit this place (Why should you visit Chernobyl? Satiation of curiosity, of course), there are some things that you can do. You can learn the experience of people who have travelled there through here, and there are tour guides, but I’m gonna tell you the things you can do in Chernobyl nonetheless.
Oh, before I begin, I should tell you that going here doesn’t mean seeing pretty things. In Chernobyl, it’s like going back in time and we’re pretty much learning about the disaster and its damage. Again, you’ll only sate your curiosity and learn something new here. And do note that you’ll spend your day mostly walking. Alright, moving on.
Basically, tour in Chernobyl is going to some landmarks or famous places that was damaged by the nuclear incident. You can go to the town of Chernobyl, see and/or climb the Duga Radar or “Woodpecker” (something that the Soviet used during the Cold War), go to Pripyat amusement park, and even visit infamous the Reactor No. 4 which gives the shivers to some or most people who’ve gone there.
Remember to use trousers or pants, long-sleeve shirt or tee, closed shoes (no peep toes, sandals, etc), and a hat. If you go there around October through April, make sure you bring extra clothing because it might be snowing during that time. It’s okay to bring cameras, apparently, so you should definitely bring it and get some pictures.
So far, there hasn’t been any news of whether you can visit the solar plant or not, but you can always ask your tour companies.
All in all, finding out that a place well known for its disastrous event (not a good thing to be famous for, honestly) turning into something that benefits both the environment and humanity makes one feel good. Hopefully more countries with empty, neglected areas would follow what Ukraine has done so that there would be more solar powered energy around us.
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