Solar Plant Opens at Uninhabitable Chernobyl Nuclear Site
A site once a symbol of one type of apocalypse is now helping to stave off another.
"Today we are connecting the station to the power system of Ukraine," Ukrainian-German company Solar Chernobyl head Yevgen Varyagin said at the opening ceremony.
The site of the Chernobyl disaster, which killed thousands and forced hundreds of thousands to evacuate, is surprisingly ideal for renewable energy. The 1,000 square miles surrounding the plant won't be safe for humans for 24,000 years, but the site is already connected to the power grid, Fortune pointed out.
"It's not just another solar power plant," Varyagin told reporters, according to Reuters. "It's really hard to underestimate the symbolism of this particular project."
The undamaged Chernobyl power plants generated energy until 2000, when they were shut down. It looked as though the site's days as an energy source were over.
"But now we are seeing a new sprout, still small, weak, producing power on this site and this is very joyful," head of the Chernobyl nuclear plant Valery Seyda said, according to Reuters.
Ukraine, which is looking to diversify its energy portfolio as it stops buying natural gas from Russia, had offered good prices for around 6,000 acres of land and will buy the energy at 50 percent above the average EU prize, AFP reported.
The current plant cost $1.2 million to build and generates one megawatt of power on four acres of land, enough to run about 2,000 homes, Fortune reported. However, the end goal is to construct 100 megawatts worth of solar farms.
The Ukraine had previously built two solar farms in the Crimea that had a capacity of 82 and 100 megawatts, but they were annexed by Russia along with the rest of the Crimea. The Ukraine still sources coal and nuclear fuel from Russia, but has nearly 600 megawatts of its own renewable energy as of 2018.
It added more than 500 megawatts of renewable power since January, twice as much as the country added in 2017, and Yulia Kovaliv, head of the Office of the National Investment Council of Ukraine, told Reuters that investors were racing to take advantage of a renewable energy subsidy before the Ukrainian parliament votes on potentially ending it in July 2019.
Renewable Energy Dominates Early 2018 Power Plant Construction https://t.co/52VSzo9jID @RenewablesNews @cleantechnica— EcoWatch (@EcoWatch)1524873608.0
Sweden's reindeer have a problem. In winter, they feed on lichens buried beneath the snow. But the climate crisis is making this difficult. Warmer temperatures mean moisture sometimes falls as rain instead of snow. When the air refreezes, a layer of ice forms between the reindeer and their meal, forcing them to wander further in search of ideal conditions. And sometimes, this means crossing busy roads.
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By Aaron W Hunter
A chance discovery of a beautifully preserved fossil in the desert landscape of Morocco has solved one of the great mysteries of biology and paleontology: how starfish evolved their arms.
The Pompeii of palaeontology. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<h2></h2><p>Although starfish might appear very robust animals, they are typically made up of lots of hard parts attached by ligaments and soft tissue which, upon death, quickly degrade. This means we rely on places like the Fezouata formations to provide snapshots of their evolution.</p><p>The starfish fossil record is patchy, especially at the critical time when many of these animal groups first appeared. Sorting out how each of the various types of ancient starfish relate to each other is like putting a puzzle together when many of the parts are missing.</p><h2>The Oldest Starfish</h2><p><em><a href="https://www.biorxiv.org/content/10.1101/216101v1.full.pdf" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Cantabrigiaster</a></em> is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. It was discovered in 2003, but it has taken over 17 years to work out its true significance.</p><p>What makes <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> unique is that it lacks almost all the characteristics we find in brittle stars and starfish.</p><p>Starfish and brittle stars belong to the family Asterozoa. Their ancestors, the Somasteroids were especially fragile - before <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> we only had a handful of specimens. The celebrated Moroccan paleontologist Mohamed <a href="https://doi.org/10.1016/j.palaeo.2016.06.041" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Ben Moula</a> and his local team was instrumental in discovering <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0031018216302334?via%3Dihub" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">these amazing fossils</a> near the town of Zagora, in Morocco.</p><h2>The Breakthrough</h2><p>Our breakthrough moment came when I compared the arms of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> with those of modern sea lilles, filter feeders with long feathery arms that tend to be attached to the sea floor by a stem or stalk.</p><p>The striking similarity between these modern filter feeders and the ancient starfish led our team from the University of Cambridge and Harvard University to create a new analysis. We applied a biological model to the features of all the current early Asterozoa fossils in existence, along with a sample of their closest relatives.</p>
Cantabrigiaster is the most primitive starfish-like animal to be discovered in the fossil record. Aaron Hunter, Author provided<p>Our results demonstrate <em>Cantabrigiaster</em> is the most primitive of all the Asterozoa, and most likely evolved from ancient animals called crinoids that lived 250 million years before dinosaurs. The five arms of starfish are a relic left over from these ancestors. In the case of <em>Cantabrigiaster</em>, and its starfish descendants, it evolved by flipping upside-down so its arms are face down on the sediment to feed.</p><p>Although we sampled a relatively small numbers of those ancestors, one of the unexpected outcomes was it provided an idea of how they could be related to each other. Paleontologists studying echinoderms are often lost in detail as all the different groups are so radically different from each other, so it is hard to tell which evolved first.</p>
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