Chernobyl Could Become World’s Largest Solar Farm

Chernobyl Could Become World’s Largest Solar Farm

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Thirty years after the nuclear disaster Greenpeace revisits the site and the Unit 4 with the New Safe Confinement (NSC or New Shelter). Photo credit: Denis Sinyakov / Greenpeace

Three decades after the worst nuclear power plant catastrophe in history, a site in Chernobyl is being reimagined as a solar energy farm—one that would be the world’s largest once built.

The 1986 meltdown, which released radiation at least 100 times more powerful than the radiation released by the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima, rendered roughly 2,600 square kilometers of the area unsuitable for habitation. Greenpeace found that animals living within the exclusion zone have higher mortality rates, increased genetic mutations and decreased birth rate.

But in a twist of poetic justice, the Ukrainian government has expressed ambitions to turn 6,000 hectares within Chernobyl’s “exclusion zone” into a renewable energy hub. The proposed plant would generate 1-gigawatt of solar power and 400-megawatts of biogas per year, the Guardian reported. The country is pushing for a six-month construction cycle.

According to PV-Tech, ecology minister Ostap Semerak has visited the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with the plan. The proposal has since been issued to investment firms in the U.S., Canada and the UK. If it gets the green light, the renewable energy farm will generate about a third of the electricity that the former nuclear plant generated when it was running.

Three decades after the worst nuclear power plant catastrophe in history, a site in Chernobyl is being reimagined as a solar energy farm

Three decades after the worst nuclear power plant catastrophe in history, a site in Chernobyl is being reimagined as a solar energy farm

“The Chernobyl site has really good potential for renewable energy,” Semerak said during an interview in London.

“We already have high-voltage transmission lines that were previously used for the nuclear stations, the land is very cheap and we have many people trained to work at power plants. We have normal European priorities, which means having the best standards with the environment and clean energy ambitions.”

Semerak said that two U.S. investment firms and four Canadian energy companies have already expressed interest in the Chernobyl’s solar potential, the Guardian reported. The project is estimated to cost between $1 and $1.5 billion.

“The EBRD may consider participating in the project so long as there are viable investment proposals and all other environmental matters and risks can be addressed to the bank’s satisfaction,” an EBRD representative said.

However “nothing is imminent,” the spokesperson added. “We are keeping an open mind. But it’s important not to read too much into it at this stage.”

“The Ukraine has indicated it will open the exclusion zone, and we welcome that. Renewables are one of our priorities, and as soon and as long as they secure investment then we will discuss the project and provide co-financing,” the bank rep said.

The renewable energy project isn’t just good news for the environment, it will provide Ukraine some energy independence, as the country currently gets the bulk of its natural gas from Russia, Business Insider pointed out.

If construction is approved, Chernobyl’s solar farm will hold the title of “World’s Largest Solar Plant” before Dubai’s massive concentrated solar plant catches up to it.

The Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) has announced the second phase of a massive solar project located in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. The 13-megawatt first phase of the project has been operational since October 2013 and the 200-megawatt second phase will be operational by April 2017. The facility will ultimately produce 1,000 megawatts by 2020 and 5,000 megawatts by 2030, which will provide power for 800,000 homes. The solar park will help reduce 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, the release said.

The Dubai Water and Electricity Authority (DEWA) has announced the second phase of a massive solar project located in the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park.
The 13-megawatt first phase of the project has been operational since October 2013 and the 200-megawatt second phase will be operational by April 2017. The facility will ultimately produce 1,000 megawatts by 2020 and 5,000 megawatts by 2030, which will provide power for 800,000 homes. The solar park will help reduce 6.5 million tonnes of carbon emissions annually, the release said.

The under-construction Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai will produce 1 gigawatt of electricity by 2020 with ambitious expansion plans of 5 gigawatts by 2030.

3D Printed Hearts Helping To Save Babies’ Lives

3D Printed Hearts Helping To Save Babies’ Lives

Doctors in Arizona are experimenting with 3D printing technology to help save the lives of babies.

The heart replicas are designed to match every tiny detail of a baby’s heart, so they can help surgeons plan where to cut tissue, reroute piping and patch holes in children with congenital heart defects, researchers said.

Children who have certain congenital heart defects — such as holes in one of the four chambers of the heart or misrouted arteries and vessels — often face years of complex, risky surgeries.

looking-at-mri

Surgeons traditionally used detailed MRI scans to visualize heart defects prior to going into the operating room. But when Matthew Bramlet (shown here), a pediatric cardiologist at the University of Illinois College of Medicine at Peoria, discovered that a research instiution nearby had a high-quality 3D printer, he wondered whether those MRI scans could be translated into 3D replicas of the heart. (Photo credit: Kyle Formella/Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center)

3D printer at JUMP

biomedical researcher Sabeen Admani uses the High-end 3D printer at JUMP (James Carlson/OSF St. Francis Medical Center)

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Printing hearts (Photo credit: Kyle Formella/Jump Trading Simulation & Education Center)

When these fragile babies are born, doctors typically do a very quick surgery that improves blood flow just enough for them to grow. Once the little ones have doubled in size (usually when they are 6 to 9 months old), surgeons often perform more complicated repair surgery, Bramlet said.

But even the hearts of bigger babies are tiny, and the magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans that are currently done to guide surgical decisions are difficult to interpret. Although researchers have 3D-printed an artificial heart sleeve, an artificial wind pipe and replicas of kidneys and livers to guide surgeries, 3D replicas of the heart were slower to come along, Bramlet said.

UICOMP JUMP heart models innovation lab simulation practice 20140313

So far, Bramlet and his colleagues have created eight or nine of printed hearts. Each of the cases have revealed new information about the defects, and some of them have improved the outcome of the surgeries, Bramlet said. Here, Bramlet displays some of the hearts. (James Carlson/OSF St. Francis Medical Center)

UICOMP JUMP heart models innovation lab simulation practice 20140313

Tiny hearts (James Carlson/OSF St. Francis Medical Center)

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