Assessment on the local climate effects of solar parks

Makaronidou, Maria and Armstrong, Alona and Ostle, Nick and Kettridge, Nicholas (2020) Assessment on the local climate effects of solar parks. PhD thesis, Lancaster University.

[thumbnail of 2020MakaronidouPhD]
Text (2020MakaronidouPhD)
Makaronidou_phd.thesis_25.06.2020_final.pdf - Other
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs.

Download (5MB)


Transition to low-carbon energy sources is the primary driver of the wide deployment of ground-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) technologies (solar parks). Despite of this notable land-use change impacts of solar parks on local climate and the associated ecosystem functions are poorly resolved. Field study conducted at a temperate UK grassland, showed cooler air and soil temperatures under panels during the growing season compared to the gap between the PV panel rows. Further, higher soil moisture under, during growing season compared to the gap and evidence for spatial variability on soil physical properties; likely the result of compaction and vegetation management during and after solar park construction. Microclimatic changes had no spatial effect on leaf area index nor net ecosystem exchange and water vapor fluxes. Acknowledging the effects of solar parks on soil temperatures HIS-PV (Heat-In a Solar PV park) model was built and sensitivity analyses reported that dense canopies and wet soils increased model errors during growing season whilst low dense canopies decreased model errors post-growing season. HIS-PV model was applied to simulate soil temperature, incoming short-wave (SW) and potential evaporation (PE) across different climatic zones. Annual incoming SW was strongly affected; control areas received 60% more solar radiation than under panels across all tested zones. Soil temperature and PE demonstrated the largest differences between under and control areas in arid environments, followed by evidence for lower amount of growing degree days under the panels at both the arid and the equatorial zones. Regardless of the wide solar parks’ deployment and the undoubtable importance of terrestrial ecosystems, local climatic changes caused by solar parks and implications for ecosystem services provided by the hosting landscape are poorly resolved. This study provides the first synthesis of emerging understanding in this area. Research findings are urgently needed to enhance understanding and thus explore the potential for managing solar parks to provide multiple ecosystem services.

Item Type:
Thesis (PhD)
ID Code:
Deposited By:
Deposited On:
01 Jul 2020 09:30
Last Modified:
17 May 2024 01:55