Chinese companies plan 1GW solar plant on Chernobyl nuclear site

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One of the greatest energy-related disasters in living memory is now set to become a bastion of PV development in Europe.

Another Chinese company is set to be involved in the project, with construction set to begin sometime in 2017.
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PV Magazine

Another Chinese company is set to be involved in the project, with construction set to begin sometime in 2017.
Another Chinese company is set to be involved in the project, with construction set to begin sometime in 2017.

China National Complete Engineering Corporation (CCEC) will work alongside two Chinese solar companies, including GCL-SI, to develop a mammoth PV plant over 1 GW, at the site of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine, which took place 30 years ago.

The announcement of a 1 GW solar project at Chernobyl acts as a symbolic shift in the global energy mix, as the site of one of the greatest energy-related disasters in living memory is now set to become a bastion of PV development in Europe. The mega PV plant will be developed by a collection of Chinese companies, who will not only look to take advantage of the cheap land and existing electric transmission facilities at Chernobyl, but also expand their global outreach in the solar market.

CCEC is set to act as the general contractor for the project, which is set to be over 1 GW, while GCL-SI, a subsidiary of GCL, will perform consulting and planning task, and providing PV technology to the project. Another Chinese company is set to be involved in the project, with construction set to begin sometime in 2017.

“There will be remarkable social benefits and economical ones as we try to renovate the once damaged area with green renewable energy,” commented GCL-SI Chairman, Shu Hua. “We are glad that we are making joint efforts with Ukraine to rebuild the community for the local people.”

A symbolic project

It was 30 years ago that the nuclear plant at Chernobyl, Ukraine, went into meltdown, spitting out highly toxic radiation for 30 kilometers around the site. Earlier in the year, the Ukrainian government announced that it wanted to take advantage of the electricity infrastructure already at the site and develop various renewable energy projects there. And it is the perfect place to highlight the environmental benefits of clean energy initiatives.

In July, pv magazine reported that the Ukrainian government was planning on adding solar to the devastated site, but details were scant, and there was only talk of a 4 MW project from Ukrainian developers. However, a PV plant over 1 GW is a huge step up from there, but with cheap land and existing electrical infrastructure, putting renewable projects on the site seems like a no-brainer.

“Its cheap land and abundant sunlight constitute a solid foundation for the project,” commented Ukraine’s Minister of Environmental and Natural Resources, Ostap Semerak, last month. “In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities are ready for reuse.”

“A PV plant is probably a very sensible use of the land since it requires little human presence,” added Bloomberg New Energy Finance lead solar analyst Jenny Chase when speaking with pv magazine. However, Chase also pointed out that there was no mention of an agreement from any Ukrainian authority or utility to purchase the power, which suggests the Chinese consortium may still have some work to go before it could or would start developing the project.

Provided that the project does go ahead, and the Chinese consortium are responsible for tis development, it will act as the perfect opportunity  for GCL to spread to global reach, and develop landmark projects in new markets. “We have been dedicated to providing integrated solar services and will take diverse approaches this year to drive penetration and achieve presence,” added Shu.

Source: PV Magazine. Reproduced with permission.

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  1. Ian 3 years ago

    Bitter-sweet announcement. The area has been a no-go zone for 30years and wildlife has flourished in this contaminated area. Very telling is the reduction of this story of the survival of nature against nuclear adversity to ‘cheap land’. Is that all nature is to people, ‘cheap land’. We have pockets of residual coastal forest, and ex-cane land on the Sunshine Coast which developers eye as ‘blocks of land and building sites’. Same ruthlessness, different faces.

      • Ian 3 years ago

        Nice references, thank you. The world bank lists data for terrestrial protected areas as a % of total land area .Ukraine’s is 4%. Germany’s 37.4% Australia’s 14.6%. This Cinderella story, as you call it, is not about wildlife flourishing in the Chernobyl exclusion zone so much as this being the only place in that country where wildlife can exist – 96% of the land is hostile to animal life being used for human activities. Tell me, is not a bird with half a brain better than no bird at all. The National Geographic article which popularised the idea of wildlife’flourishing’in the Chernobyl exclusion zone is maybe a peculiarly English idiomatic technique of saying how pathetic that country’s conservation efforts are. It’s the same as reporting on Cairo’s slum dwellers. That story is not about the amazing recycling efforts of that community but the terrible treatment of those Coptic Christians who have resorted to that way of life.

        Surely the German culture has that kind of story-construction: praise the efforts of the oppressed to highlight the terrible deads of the oppressor.

    • MaxG 3 years ago

      flourished?! the wild life? Yeah, right, you have no idea… do some research and you will change your stance.

  2. Brunel 3 years ago

    Silly idea.

    The Top Gear guys drove through there and they measured high levels of radiation.

    Build it elsewhere.

    • neroden 3 years ago

      Well, it is definitely a big issue for the workers who will be installing the panels.

      However, solar panels are actually designed to absorb radiation and convert it to electrical power, so, why not put them there?

      The area is sufficiently contaminated and un-fixable that Ukraine decided to make it their primary storage site for spent nuclear fuel and nuclear waste for the whole country, incidentally.

  3. MaxG 3 years ago

    Well, good luck to them… however, I find the 30km radius a joke. I was living in Germany at the time, some 2,000km away from Chernobyl, and I accompanied my wife to the supermarket with a Geiger-Müller counter to only pick non-radiating food. The radioactivity settled in the eastern parts of (then West) Germany where i.e. the milk was coming from — it had to be dismissed… amongst many other vegetables, etc.

    My key point: it is beyond me, how anyone could support this technology in this day and age, where we should know better to leave Pandora’s box closed. How can any on belive that we can di this stuff into the ground for a hundred-thousand years, when we can’t even build a washing machine that lasts ten… the German saying goes “nach mir die Sintflut” > after me the floods can come.
    I even go as far as saying that the increased cancer rates can be blamed on these disasters… anyway, I digress.

    • Ian 3 years ago

      Love your German saying. Could this phrase be referencing the story of Methuselah who died just before the genesis flood?

  4. neroden 3 years ago

    My only question: do the workers building the solar plant all have to wear protective suits?

    Also, does the radiation damage the solar panels? Or does it perhaps get absorbed and generate power? 🙂

  5. Christine 3 years ago

    First came across the news on the solar energy project in Chornobyl here:
    I’m surprised to read the comments, how is this a bad thing?

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