Austria's dormant nuclear power plant now produces solar energy

VIENNA, June 26 (The Associated Press) - Jun 26
> After a 30-year wait, the world's only nuclear power plant kept
> dormant by the population finally started to produce energy on
> Thursday.
> The grey giant in Zwentendorf in Austria houses 1,000 solar
> panels in
> its concrete walls and the area around it, with 300 starting
> operations.
> From July 24, all of the solar elements will produce 180,000 kW/
> h of
> electricity per year, according to a press release from the governor
> of
> Lower Austria, Erwin Proell.
> Burkhard Hofer, director general of the EVN, an electricity
> supply
> company in Lower Austria, described the facility "as a symbol for
> renewable
> energy and an environment-friendly future."
> According to Proell, 25 percent of Lower Austria's energy
> originates
> from renewable energy sources, such as wind, water, biomass and the
> sun.
> The huge gray concrete building in the village of Zwentendorf,
> about
> 50 kilometers west of Vienna, would have been a fully functional
> nuclear
> power plant. But it turned out to be a 500 million euro failure when
> 50.5
> percent of Austrians voted against the plant's operations after
> seven years
> of construction work on Nov. 5, 1978.
> At the outskirts of the village, only a few meters away from the
> Danube River, the gray colossus is a visible sign of Austria's
> rejection of
> nuclear energy and its fear of this technology.
> The decision against nuclear power led to the adoption of a law
> which
> prohibits the production of energy out of nuclear fusion in the
> country, and
> with that marks the end of this technology even before it actually
> takes
> hold in Austria.
> Now the thick concrete walls only seem to be hiding the remains
> of a
> plant that could have produced a capacity of 700 MW of electricity.
> By earning money through selling parts of the facility and
> providing
> training space for staff of similar boiling-water reactors in
> Germany, the
> building earns enough money to have its 1,050 rooms serviced.
> Eight to 10 hours each day, Johann Fleischer, chief technician,
> takes
> care of the building.
> There is enough to do each day, he says. Maintenance, repairs and
> training foreign participants keeps him busy.
> There should have been 200 people working at the plant, but
> Fleischer
> is the only permanent employee since 2002.
> Nevertheless, inside the building everything looks like those 200
> people could come back and start work any minute, if only time had
> not left
> its visible traces.