France helps Ukraine launch 1.2 GW solar hub in Chernobyl

The French government will provide Ukraine with technical assistance and financial resources to conduct the feasibility study for the 1.2 GW solar project planned for the area of Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster.

The announcement was given by Ukraine’s vice prime minister Volodýmyr Kistión on its Facebook account. Kistión has not specified the amount of financing to be provided by the French government, nor has he given a time frame for the feasibility study. He added, however, that Ukraine’s National Power Company Ukrenergo is now assessing how to improve the power infrastructures at the Chernobyl Exclusion zone in order to ensure the connection of the planned solar plants.

Another French entity, the energy giant Engie, of which France’s government still owns a third, had started talks in July with the Ukrainian government about the possibility of building a huge solar farm inside the radioactive zone. The project would be backed by the French government and would require an aggregate investment of $1.25 billion between Ukraine and France. At the time, Ukraine minister of ecology Ostap Semerak told Bloomberg that Engie is one of 60 companies to have so far expressed an interest in developing some form of renewable generating capacity at the site, which is 2,600 square kilometers of radiated land that has been largely absent of human activity for the past 30 years.

In early August, Ukraine’s State Property Fund of Ukraine (SPF) issued a tender to lease a surface of 2.5 million square meters at a facility of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant. In a statement published on its website, the agency said the area will be leased for a period of 49 years, and that it can host a solar power plant with a maximum capacity of 100 MW.

The Ukrainian government had said in late May it was accelerating the procedures to select PV developers interested in investing in the solar hub. The country’s prime minister Volodymyr Groysma said the government intended to define the bidding rules for all interested investors, as well as a clear and transparent auction mechanism.