Ironic Reuse: Ukraine might repurpose Chernobyl as giant renewable energy farm

The contaminated nuclear wasteland around Chernobyl could be turned into one of the world’s largest solar farms, producing nearly a third of the electricity that the stricken plant generated at its height 30 years ago, according to the Ukrainian government.

In a presentation sent to major banks, 6,000 hectares of “idle” land in Chernobyl’s 1,000 square km exclusion zone, which is considered too dangerous for people to live in or farm, could be turned to solar, biogas, and heat and power generation.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) this week indicated it would be prepared to lend money for the renewable energy plan. The EBRD has already provided more than $500m (£379m) to build a large stainless steel “sarcophagus” over the destroyed reactor, which will remain dangerous for thousands of years.

Ukraine’s ecology minister said the government was negotiating with two U.S. investment firms and four Canadian energy companies, which have expressed interest in the Chernobyl’s solar potential.

Tens of thousands of people in Ukraine, Belarus, and south Russia were evacuated immediately after the 1986 accident from a wide area around the nuclear plant and places where the radioactive plume descended.

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