Earlier this year, the Ukrainian government teased the idea of repurposing some of the roughly 400 square miles of radioactive land around the Chernobyl nuclear disaster site for a huge solar farm. Now, the plan’s snagged Chinese energy behemoth Golden Concord Holdings Limited (GCL).
The clean-energy company has signed up to develop a 1GW photovoltaic power plant in the Chernobyl exclusion zone. The plant will produce an equivalent amount of power as two coal-fueled plants, roughly enough energy to power 750,000 homes.
The site, with its large swath of unusable space and existing power infrastructure, is oddly perfect for a large solar array. “Its cheap land and abundant sunlight constitute a solid foundation for the project,” said Ostap Semerak, Ukraine’s minister of environment and natural resources, in a statement. “In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities are ready for reuse.”
Construction is scheduled to kick off in 2017, with GCL leading the planning and providing panels. Another Chinese company, the state-owned China National Complete Engineering Corporation, will serve as general contractor.
Just last week, the world’s largest moving man-made object—a new radioactivity-containment structure—slid into place above Chernobyl’s corroding sarcophagus.