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Ukraine Is Planning to Build a Massive Solar Farm at Chernobyl

Lots of gigawatts.

The Chernobyl plant in 2006, covered in a protective containment structure. (Photo: Carl Montgomery/CC BY 2.0)

The Chernobyl nuclear disaster occurred 30 years ago, leaving dozens dead and hundreds of square miles of land unlivable. But now Ukraine says it has an idea what to do with that radioactive land.

The idea is a massive solar farm, according to Bloomberg, which would give the country a new source of renewable energy while also making use of Chernobyl’s unused power lines. The lines are a remnant of the nuclear plant and, presumably the top-secret Duga-3 military base, and capable of carrying up to four gigawatts of energy out of the area.

Since it’s situated in the south of Europe, Ukraine is among the best-positioned countries on the continent to utilize solar energy, getting more sunlight yearly than, say, Britain or Scandinavia. 

Developers plan to install solar panels on the site capable of generating up to four gigawatts of energy by the end of 2016, according to Bloomberg, which would allow the country to rely less on Russian natural gas, a reliance which has been problematic in recent years as the Russia-Ukraine conflict has ground on. 

It would also make the massive Exclusion Zone—which won’t be safe to live on again for hundreds of years, despite the efforts of some illegal settlers—useful again. The ghost town, in other words, might finally make itself useful.