1.2 GW solar project at area of Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster is doable – Engie

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“Chernobyl’s exclusion zone is open for the construction of solar stations.” This announcement was made by Ukraine’s Minister of Ecology, Ostap Semerak during a presentation of the results of a feasibility study conducted for the giant solar park, which is being planned for the area of the well-known nuclear desaster, according to a press release from the Ukrainian Ministry of Energy.

The report, which was carried out by French engineering services provider, Tractebel Engineering S.A., a unit of France-based energy giant, Engie, on behalf of the Ukrainian government, concludes that the ambitious project is doable, despite the still high levels of radioactive contamination of the area.

The authors of the report also found that the construction of a big solar plant in the area is not only doable, but it has also several advantages. “This place is well suited for building a solar power plant. The necessary transport and energy infrastructure is still well preserved. There is a huge area, and most importantly, the maintenance of such a park would not require the involvement of a large number of people,” Semerak said.

The feasibility study was awarded to Engie in early August. At the time, Ukraine’s Vice Prime Minister, Volodýmyr Kistión said the country’s National Power Company, Ukrenergo was also going to assess how to improve the power infrastructures at the Chernobyl Exclusion zone, in order to ensure the connection of the planned solar plants.

Engie, meanwhile, started talks with the Ukrainian government, expressing interest in developing the project last July. At the time, Semerak told Bloomberg that Engie was one of 60 companies to have expressed an interest in developing some form of renewable generating capacity at the site, which comprises 2,600 square kilometers of radiated land that has been largely absent of human activity for the past 30 years.

Later in November, Ukrainian company, Rodina and German developer, Enerparc AG announced the start of the construction of the first 1 MW in the area. Although it only represents a tiny portion of the proposed 1.2 GW mega project, this project could be significant as it represents the first actual action on the site after months of discussion between PV developers and politicians.