Chernobyl, the site of the world’s most well-known nuclear disaster, has been essentially abandoned since the infamous reactor meltdown of 1986 — with good reason, as the site has been contaminated by radiation.
Nonetheless, Ukraine now plans to give Chernobyl a makeover that will have it generate power once again. But this time, it’s going to be a massive wind farm.
The current plan, according to a report from Popular Mechanics, is to turn Chernobyl into a one-gigawatt wind farm, which would be one of the largest in Europe. At full capacity, the wind farm could power up to 800,000 homes in nearby Kyiv, Ukraine’s capital, according to the report.
As for whether it will actually be safe for workers to spend time in the radiated zone, the answers are somewhat unclear. According to the International Atomic Energy Agency, there is still radioactive material in the atmosphere, but it exists at “tolerable exposure levels for limited periods of time.”
However, there were also reports of Russian soldiers experiencing radiation sickness as recently as last year after digging into the dirt near the power plant. Russian forces seized the Chernobyl site during its invasion of Ukraine and held it for several weeks before abandoning it.
The Ukrainian government and Notus Energy, the German company that has been brought on to build out the project, are reportedly still assessing how to move forward safely. While there are certainly concerns around the projects, the Chernobyl site also comes with big upsides, as there is already a lot of power plant infrastructure in place. Furthermore, no residents will be displaced by the project, as the radiation zone is still basically a ghost town.
There is also a nice symmetry to the site of one of the world’s worst-ever power-related disasters being rehabilitated into a modern power plant that can produce clean, renewable energy that allows Ukraine to transition away from harmful dirty energy sources.
It could “become a symbol of clean, climate-friendly energy, providing Kyiv with green electricity,” said Oleksandr Krasnolutskyi, Ukraine’s deputy ecology minister.
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