It’s always sunny in Chernobyl


The progress report is glowing:

Ukraine launched Friday a park of photovoltaic panels at the former Chernobyl power plant as the country seeks to use solar power to give the scene of the world’s worst nuclear disaster a new lease on life.

The 1 million-euro ($1.2-million), one-megawatt plant is located just a hundred metres (yards) from a giant metal dome sealing the remains of the the nuclear power plant which suffered a catastrophic meltdown in 1986.

“Today we are connecting the station to the power system of Ukraine,” Yevgen Varyagin, the head of Solar Chernobyl, a Ukrainian-German company behind the project, said at the launch ceremony.

The facility, which is installed across an area of 1.6 hectares (4 acres), can power a medium-sized village, or about 2,000 households.

Plans are to eventually produce 100 megawatts at the site, which due to contamination from radiation cannot be used for farming.

I was a few hundred kilometres to the west when the original non-solar Chernobyl power station blew off some steam, and as a result got dusted with the fall-out such as was carried on the wind into the rest of Europe. We didn’t know at the time, because our then eastern neighbours and masters, the Soviets, did not warn us. It was only when the radiation had reached Sweden and was detected by the Western sensors that an alarm was raised. This experience did not turn me anti-nuclear; it turned me further anti-Soviet. It wasn’t the idea, it was the people. I used to joke that the commies are so incompetent even if Chernobyl was a solar power plant they could have turned into a massive environmental disaster. The commies are no more in Ukraine, so I think we’re pretty safe.

If you’re tempted by the cheap land offered, do bear in mind that “Humans cannot return to live in the zone for another 24,000 years, according to the Ukrainian authorities.”