When you think of Chernobyl, the last thing you think of is eco-friendly energy production. But soon, the huge portions of abandoned land surrounding the sight of the infamous nuclear meltdown will be home to a massive solar power plant.
The idea was originally put forward this summer, but it now looks like two Chinese corporations are officially taking up the mantle. The two energy companies, GCL-SI and CCEC (a subsidiary of state-owned China National Machinery Industry Corp), have said they hope to begin construction of a 1-gigawatt plant next year, Reuters reports.
“There will be remarkable social benefits and economic ones as we try to renovate the once damaged area with green and renewable energy,” said Shu Hua, the chairman of GCL-SI, according to Reuters.
Following the catastrophic meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in April 1986, the city of Pripyat has been surrounded with a 2,600-square-kilometer (1,000-square-mile) exclusion zone of forest and clear open land, ideal for harvesting the Sun’s solar energy.
Radiation levels around the remains of the No. 4 reactor building still remain dangerously high and are likely to remain so for thousands of years. In the 30 years since the meltdown, scientists have already seen some evidence of the radiation causing harm to local animals.
However, the whole area is not the post-apocalyptic wasteland it’s often depicted as, with portions of the exclusion zone containing radiation levels deemed safe and under control. Although the exact location of the plant is not disclosed, the company have said they are already surveying the land for radiation levels and so far, so good.