Tag Archives: nuclear energy

Two Chinese companies are planning to build a giant solar plant in Chernobyl

23 Nov

Two Chinese solar companies have plans to build a huge solar farm in one of the scariest places on earth, the Chernobyl exclusion zone. On the 26th April 1986, one of four nuclear reactors at the Chernobyl power station exploded. As a result, the disaster released at least 100 times more radiation than the atom bombs dropped on Nagasaki and Hiroshima. Much of the fallout was deposited close to Chernobyl, in parts of Belarus, Ukraine and Russia. More than 350,000 people resettled away from these areas, but about 5.5 million remain. Scandinavia was badly affected and there are still areas of the UK where farms face post-Chernobyl controls.

After the nuclear plant’s meltdown, Soviet officials set up a restricted area around the site called the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone. Even though it’s been 30 years since the accident, this restricted area is still exceptionally large. A 1,000 square mile exclusion zone of forests and marshland surrounds the former Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine and has been largely off-limits since the 1986 disaster. However the site is an excellent choice for the location of a large solar farm. Not only is the land cheap and unused, but there is already substantial electrical infrastructure in place left over from the nuclear plant.

Shu Hua, the chairman of GCL System Integration Technology said “There will be remarkable social benefits and economic ones as we try to renovate the once damaged area with green and renewable energy,” Making the best of a bad situation could prove motivating to others as the global community begins the hard work of implementing the Paris Agreement.

Ukraine has been trying to find an investor to build a large solar farm in the exclusion zone for several months and now the two companies, GCL System Integration Technology (GCL-SI) and state-owned China National Complete Engineering Corp (CCEC), announced their plans to start building a 1-gigawatt solar power plant in an unspecified region of the Exclusion Zone. Comments made by a GCL-SI manager suggested that the plant would be built in an area where the radiation is under control. The site itself has already gone through several rounds of inspections by the company’s technicians. GCL will build and install the solar components, while CCEC will manage and supervise the entire project. Neither company disclosed where exactly the solar farm would be built, or how much the project will cost.

Prior to the Chernobyl project, the Chinese have successfully reformatted contaminated land into renewable energy generators and therefore are the perfect candidate for the construction. Radiation levels around the remains of damaged 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.

To discourage urban expansion from absorbing more farmland, China has implemented policies that encourage solar and wind power plants on damaged land. China is currently the world’s top solar power generator with 43 gigawatts of generating capacity expected by the end of the year,

Though they have become the number one manufacturer in solar power, China has been encouraged to slash their carbon footprint since they reportedly derive 66% of their energy from coal use, according to the Energy Information Administration. The nation has since announced plans to eliminate all CO2 emissions by 2030 by expanding their international solar power presence and tripling their generated wind power.

Image result for Chernobyl

10 Million UK homes for solar panel installations?

7 Feb

In order for the country to fulfil its renewable energy potential, energy experts have said that ten million homes in the UK should have solar panels attached to their roofs during the next six years. This would mean over a third of households would be generating energy from solar which would let the UK harvest about 6% of its annual electricity needs from the sun. Nearly half a million homes in the UK have solar panels installed today.

The solar industry has observed a boom in sales over the last 5 years and an increasing number of households are embracing the technology. Those who have energy efficient electric heating and use feed-in tariffs are seeing the greatest benefit, and are safeguarded from the big six price rises.

Germany has been leading the way with solar power, with a major push over the last decade. Currently, solar power costs about a Euro cents 10 per kilowatt hour in Germany, compared with about 6 to 8 Euro cents per kilowatt hour with gas and the most carbon intense form of fuel, brown coal. Wind and solar energy have effectively merged into the energy mix and are now contributing to renewable energy targets within Germany.  This is somewhat due to a determination by the German Government in 2011 to eliminate nuclear energy generation and concentrate purely on clean energy, a decision made in the wake of the disaster of Fukushima.

Ajay Gambhir from the Imperial College London has said that by 2030, the cost of solar should be equivalent to that of the dirtiest forms of coal and gas. Due to economies of scale, installing more solar panels will bring the cost of the technology down dramatically as Germany has recently shown.

According to academics from the Grantham Institute of Imperial College London, due to current trends, over the next 20 years the cost of fossil fuels are expected to stay the same, whilst solar energy should reduce to 6 to 8 Euro cents per kilowatt hour by 2030. It has been argued that this will only be achievable with the installation of more solar panels on houses, large public buildings and offices. The implementation of solar farms would also accomplish UK government targets, which involves building large arrays of solar panels over empty fields.

In the UK, the installation of renewable energy into the electricity grid has thus far been a slow process. Several of the UK’s present-day coal-fired power stations and aged nuclear reactors will have to be taken out of service by the end of the decade, but efforts to substitute this generation with renewable power has so far evolved sluggishly.

Research from the Grantham Institute has publicised that solar energy could in for an enormous expansion in the UK. Though, this being subject to favourable policies within the government to boost the installation of more solar panels across the country.

Over 495,000 homes across the UK are now solar powered, according to the latest statistics published by the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC).

 

Japan’s out of this world solar panel plan!

6 Dec

Over in Japan an architectural/engineering firm called Shimizu has proposed an out of this world solution. Now we know the Japanese are extremely forward thinking and have some brilliant ideas but this one is actually out of this world. They propose to build a solar panel array around the moons equator and send the electricity that it collects back to Earth. Would this solve our energy and climate crisis?

The project is called Luna Ring and will consist of building a giant strip of solar panels 249 miles wide all the way around the moons equator. A system of this size would be capable of sending 13,000 terawatts of power back to Earth. The energy would be sent back to Earth in the form of microwaves, which would then be converted on Earth into carbon free energy at stations on the ground. According to the Shimizu, construction could start as early as 2035.

This all sounds great but…how would you build all this on the moon? Have you seen the film ‘Gravity’? (A wonderful film by the way, I suggest you go see). Shimizu has a plan:

“Robots will perform various tasks on the lunar surface, including ground levelling and excavation of hard bottom strata,” says Shimizu.

Solar Moon

They will be tele-operated 24 hours a day from the Earth. The concrete would be covered with solar panels, which would be connected via cables to microwave and laser transmission stations. The cables will transfer the electric power from the lunar solar cells to the transmission plants. High-energy-density laser will send the energy to the receiving plants using 20km-diameter antennas.

A radio beacon brought from the Earth will be used to ensure accurate transmission. Materials needed for the construction and maintenance of the Solar Belt will be transported along this route. Electric power cables will be installed under the transportation route.

A huge advantage of the Luna Ring is that it will allow for a round-the-clock source of energy, as there are no clouds or other bad weather on the Moon. Which sounds very hunky dory?

In recent years Japan has been researching new ways to create energy. The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 led to a closure of the country’s nuclear power plants.

If the project takes off this could be an amazing feat for mankind. Though, what concerns me is that this plan is very wild, the stuff you see in movies…could this work? It is hard to imagine an idea so complex. So what this space…no pun intended!

 

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