Chernobyl Could Become World’s Largest Solar Farm

Chernobyl Could Become World’s Largest Solar Farm

980x (2)

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.

Mapping The Planet’s Solar Potential

Mapping The Planet’s Solar Potential

As the price of installing solar has gotten less expensive, more homeowners are turning to it as a possible option for decreasing their energy bill. Project Sunroof wants to make installing solar panels easy and understandable for anyone.

Project Sunroof puts Google’s expansive data in mapping and computing resources to use, helping calculate the best solar plan for you.

The Truth About Solar

The Truth About Solar

For a long time, solar power has been very much hated from a cost-benefit standpoint but things are starting to turn around for the technology. Around the world, progress is being made to make solar power a viable alternative.

Google Project Sunroof

Google Project Sunroof

Google Project Sunroof calculates rooftop solar potential, by using Google Maps, is mapping the planet’s solar potential, one rooftop at a time.

It figures out “how much sun falls on a roof and takes into account stuff like the angle of the roof, the weather, and obstructions like trees and chimneys. Then it uses those measurements to figure out how many panels you’d probably need and how much you could save on your electric bill, including solar incentives in your area. You can see how buying or leasing panels affects your savings, and then send your estimate to installers in your area, instantly.”

Project Sunroof, for the moment, works in Boston, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Fresno. But anyone can sign up to find out when it expands to their neighborhood.

Source Google Project Sunroof

Sunlight Striking Earth’s Surface in Just One Hour Delivers Enough Energy to Power World Economy for Entire Year

Sunlight Striking Earth’s Surface in Just One Hour Delivers Enough Energy to Power World Economy for Entire Year

sunshine

In April 1954, top scientists gathered in Washington, D.C., to hear something new: voice and music broadcast by a solar-powered radio transmitter. Scientists at Bell Labs in New Jersey were demonstrating their invention, the first practical solar cell, which was made of silicon. This breakthrough paved the way for the solar revolution taking place today on rooftops and in massive ground-mounted solar farms around the world.

Solar cells, also called solar photovoltaics or PV, powered U.S. satellites during the 1960s space race with the Soviet Union. But PV technology was still too expensive to be used for much else until the Arab oil embargo of 1973. Amid rising fears about energy security, governments and private firms poured billions of dollars into solar research and development, reaping big gains in efficiency and cost reductions. This led to widespread use of PV in the 1980s for powering telephone relay stations, highway call boxes and similar applications.

Japanese and U.S. companies became early leaders in PV manufacturing for uses both large and small. For example, Japanese firms such as Sharp and Kyocera pioneered the use of solar cells in pocket calculators. A credit-card-sized solar-powered calculator from 1983 still helps us do quick calculations.

In the mid-1980s, Germany joined the U.S. and Japan in the race for PV production dominance, but by the early years of the new millennium, Japanese and U.S. companies accounted for roughly 70 percent of the world’s PV output.

Forward-thinking energy policies in Germany were the catalyst that spurred solar power’s astounding growth over the last decade or so. By guaranteeing renewable power producers access to the grid as well as a long-term premium price for their electricity, the German government’s policy made going solar economically attractive. A reinvigorated German PV manufacturing industry climbed back into the number two spot behind Japan. As world production increased to meet demand, the price of solar panels dropped, helping to drive demand higher.

With demand for PV cells growing quickly, China—factory to the world—got into the game. Beginning around 2006, a boom in the Chinese PV industry massively expanded global production and drove prices down even further. Today China is a solar manufacturing giant, producing close to two thirds of the world’s PV—more than the U.S., Japan and Germany combined.

The decline in PV panel prices over the decades is astonishing. In 1972, they cost more than $74 per watt. The average price as of mid-2014 was less than 70¢ per watt—99 percent cheaper. (For reference, the typical U.S. rooftop system today has between 2 and 10 kilowatts of generating capacity. One kilowatt equals 1,000 watts.)

Around the world, solar installations are growing by leaps and bounds on residential and commercial rooftops and in solar farms, also called solar power plants or parks, that can cover thousands of acres. Between 2008 and 2013, as solar panel prices dropped by roughly two thirds, the PV installed worldwide skyrocketed from 16,000 to 139,000 megawatts. That is enough to power every home in Germany, a country with 83 million people. In its January 2014 solar outlook report, Deutsche Bank projected that 46,000 megawatts would be added to global PV capacity in 2014 and that new installations would jump to a record 56,000 megawatts in 2015.

The International Energy Agency in Paris, which is typically conservative in its renewable energy forecasts, has been revising its solar projections upward. As recently as 2011 it forecast 112,000 megawatts of solar generating capacity by 2015—a figure the world left far behind in 2013. The organization now projects that by 2018 the total will be 326,000 megawatts of generating capacity, but the world will likely come close to this in 2016.

As solar power installations spread, it is worth remembering a point often made in the energy literature to convey the sheer scale of the solar resource: The sunlight striking the Earth’s surface in just one hour delivers enough energy to power the world economy for one year.

Source: EcoWatch.com