In the years following the catastrophic nuclear disaster at Chernobyl in 1986, it seemed that the site was destined for decay and abandonment. A concrete and steel arch will soon be implemented to cover the remains of the nuclear reactor, with subsequent plans to safely dismantle the reactor in place. However, a recent announcement by two Chinese firms to build a solar power plant in the exclusion zone around the reactor suggest that there is hope for the ill-fated area to be revived
GCL System Integration Technology (GCL-SI), an international company specialising in clean and sustainable power production, has said it would cooperate with China National Complete Engineering Corp (CCEC) on the project in Ukraine, with construction expected to start in early 2017.
The involvement of the CCEC, a state-affiliated corporation, perhaps raises some issues on the project. Government-operated investment funds can often be guided by the interests of the state rather than those of the business community in which it is investing, leading local Ukrainian companies to raise concerns that the benefit to Ukraine has been exaggerated.
However, the project would undoubtedly act as an economic stimulus through the creation of jobs and subsequent multiplier effects, while also offering seasoned and global perspectives on cleaner energy production. Consequently, there is convincing evidence to be optimistic about this project. China is the world’s biggest solar power generator, producing 43 gigawatts of capacity by the end of 2015. It is also the world’s top manufacturer, producing 72 per cent of global solar power components in 2015, according to research by Everbright Securities. This reinforces the companies’ significant expertise in the construction and management of large solar power plants.
Ukraine’s Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources has already appraised the notion, adding that its cheap land and abundant sunlight constitute a solid foundation for the project. In addition, the remaining electric transmission facilities previously used by the nuclear plant are ready for reuse.
Mr Shu Hua, Chairman of GCL-SI, has commented that ‘There will be remarkable social and economic benefits as we try to renovate the once damaged area with green and renewable energy. We are glad that we are making joint efforts with Ukraine to rebuild the community for the local people.’
GCL-SI has an extensive social responsibility agenda, endeavouring to increase the rate of green energy application whilst following local waste emission methods and using environmentally friendly technologies to work towards zero pollution. A company with such a sustainable and green ethos provides an optimistic vision of Chernobyl’s future.