Energy

China Is Building A Giant Solar Plant At Chernobyl

(Shutterstock/jaroslava V)

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Andrew Follett Energy and Science Reporter

A pair of Chinese companies are building a solar power plant right next to the site of the infamous Chernobyl nuclear reactor.

State-controlled companies China National Complete Engineering Corp (CNCE) and GCL System Integration Technology plan to build the solar plant in the 1,000-square mile exclusion zone of forest and marshland that surrounds the Chernobyl reactor.

It’s part of a Chinese government plan to use heavily polluted areas for solar and wind power projects. CNCE and GCL plan to start building the Chernobyl solar plant next year.

“There will be remarkable social benefits and economic ones as we try to renovate the once damaged area with green and renewable energy,” Shu Hua, the chairman of the GCL System Integration Technology, said in a press release.

The plant will generate roughly 1,000 megawatts of energy at peak capacity, enough to power about 164,000 homes. However, the plant will almost certainly generate only about 20 percent of that energy. The companies involved wouldn’t say precisely where in the exlusion zone the plant will be constructed.

China has been attempting to re-use many polluted zones for wind and solar since it pledged in 2014 to stop its carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from rising by 2030. As a result, the country plans to triple wind power capacity and greatly expand solar power by 2030. This amount of new energy pales in comparison to the amount of electricity the country plans to get from coal.

Of the 2,400 coal-fired power plants under construction or being planned around the world, 1,171 will be built in China. As a result, the consumption of coal in China has already grown by a factor of three from 2000 to 2013. The country consumes approximately half of all coal used worldwide and gets roughly 66 percent of its electricity from coal, according to the Energy Information Administration.

Recent studies indicate that the radiation risks of nuclear power were massively overestimated. Predictions of thousands of cancer deaths from nuclear incidents like Chernobyl or Fukushima are consistently proven incorrect.

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